WATS3D Brush Detects Esophageal Cancer


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — When a Philadelphia teacher experienced stomach problems, she chalked it up to acid reflux. But as it turns out, that reflux led to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which caused pre-cancerous cells to develop in her digestive system.  Doctors were able to identify those rogue cells with a new diagnostic tool called the WATS3D.

Sharon Daniels is a busy teacher who loves to cook and eat. But even when she started having frequent digestive issues, she didn’t think much of it.

“You have a little irregularity. You have a little tummy ache.” Daniels said.

She finally sought medical help at the urging of a colleague, which turned out to be a very good thing.

“They found the source of what was causing the problem. The GERD and the pain and the pre-cancerous cells, because it was never even on my radar,” Daniels continued.

Daniels had Barrett’s esophagus, with abnormal cells that if not properly diagnosed, can cause cancer of the esophagus, which has a low survival rate. Her gastroenterologist performed an endoscopy, using this new tool called the WATS3D brush, which scrapes a large surface in the esophagus.

Zubair Malik, MD, a gastroenterologist at Temple University Hospital said, “With a brush, what it does, is it brushes against the Barrett’s tissue, and you cover more of that tissue.” (Read Full Interview)

This precision accuracy of the WATS3D identified the precancerous cells, which doctors treated with an endoscopy.

“Typically speaking, patients get it and go home the same day.” Dr. Malik said.

It’s estimated the WATS3D brush increases the detection of precancerous cells by up to 80 percent, a significant improvement over other methods.  And for Daniels; life is back to normal.

Daniels said, “What I wanted to do was get back to work, I wanted to get back to taking care of what I wanted to do, so I made sure I came back ready and stronger than ever.”

Although there are only about 17,000 cases of esophageal cancer diagnosed each year, it has a low survival rate with only 19 percent of cancer victims still alive after five years.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.


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BACKGROUND: Nearly 20 percent of the American population suffers from some form of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, leading to irritation and a ‘burning’ sensation commonly referred to as acid reflux. Patients with GERD can experience moderate to severe acid reflux at least once a week, or a milder acid reflux at least twice a week. Although symptoms such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing and chest pain can be managed with a careful diet and over-the-counter medicine, in some cases, prolonged GERD can lead to a change in the esophageal tissue and develop into a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. Not all patients with GERD will develop Barrett’s Esophagus; however an estimated ten to 15 percent of patients may be at risk. If left untreated, the condition can progress and lead to pre-cancerous cells, or dysplasia.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940 & https://www.asge.org/home/for-patients/patient-information/understanding-gerd-barrett-39-s / https://www.wats3dforme.com/about-barretts/)


DIAGNOSIS: Traditionally, the type of biopsy performed for Barrett’s Esophagus encompasses the use of forceps in which a small and uniform sample of tissue is collected. Generally, this method only accounts for about 10-20 percent of the sample surface area of the esophagus; leaving anywhere from 80-90 percent of the sample area untested. Another method is use of a cytology brush in which this instrument is moved across the esophageal surface collecting cells. The issue here is that this process only collects the most exterior cells, failing to penetrate deep enough into the tissue for a more thorough specimen.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/barretts-esophagus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352846)


NEW TECHNOLOGY: The most common method used to identify cancerous cells is through biopsies, which can be, at times, invasive and painful. A team of doctors and professors at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia are using a new method to collect biological material, and detect harmful cells. By using a WATS3D diagnostic system, doctors are able to brush the surface of the Barrett’s Esophagus and collect tissue for analysis. Traditional pinch biopsies cover a small percentage of area, but according to Zubair Malik, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Temple University, about 20 percent of tissue can be sampled. By combining the WATS3D system and brush, as well as biopsy, doctors can sample up to 70 percent of the affected Barrett’s tissue, leading to a more comprehensive sampling, and more conclusive results for patients.

(Source: Zubair Malik, MD, PhD)




Jeremy Walter, Public Relations, Temple




If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

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