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Prevents Cervical Cancer with Latest, Non-Invasive Technology
By: Rachel Akers, Medical Writer

Women at risk for cervical cancer just gained one more incredibly strong weapon in the battle against the disease thanks to Oncologist Stephen Poliakoff. The founder of the South Florida Gynecologic Oncology Center (SFGOA), Dr. Poliakoff partnered with SpectraScience, Inc. more than one year ago to offer a new imaging system that is producing significant results. SFGOA is currently the only practice in South Florida providing this state-of-the-art technology.

LUMA™ Cervical Imaging System helps identify areas of the cervix that may contain pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. The technology is used in women immediately following a colposcopy to determine if additional tissue should be removed for biopsy. With the precancerous disease going undiagnosed in more than 200,000 women each year, according to a National ALTS study, LUMA is expected to uncover at least 26% of those cases that have the high-grade pre-cancerous disease.

This new imaging changes the landscape of cervical cancer screening, which has not always been as high-tech. The screening began in the United States in the late 1940s after Dr. George Papaniclaou developed the Pap smear. This form of detection was created to examine cells from the cervix and the vagina to decipher whether there was evidence of cancer or pre-cancerous changes. Most abnormal Pap smears are caused by cervical infections or inflammation.
Abnormal Pap smear findings may indicate:

•  Infection (including the human papillomavirus, HPV)
•  Swelling or inflammation
•  Pre-cancerous cell changes
•  Cervical cancer

Until recently, women with abnormal results from a Pap smear were further examined with a colposcopy. Now, with the invention of LUMA, doctors have an even higher level of confidence in diagnosing their patients by going one step further with the application of this unprecedented new imaging system.

Effective screening programs, such as LUMA, for cervical cancer have decreased the frequency of cervical cancer in the United States and Europe. Screening can detect precancerous changes to the cervix, known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Because the more severe types of CIN may progress to cervical cancer, removal of these lesions reduces the risk of cervical cancer.

"It is exciting for me as an oncologist to witness the increased speed of improvements in cervical cancer detection over the past five years," comments Dr. Poliakoff. "Advancements happened at a steady pace for two decades, and then really took off. SFGOA is proud to be uniquely positioned because we make it a consistent priority to stay at the forefront of this growth."

For 25 years, SFGOA has specialized in cutting-edge treatment programs from across the world. The South Florida practice is passionate about helping women who are at risk for cervical cancer and other gynecological problems. The center's staff says it aims to provide the best care possible to deliver optimal results for the patients, and the investment and acquisition of LUMA technology is an example of that dedication.

This unique system uses a special kind of light, to which different tissue types respond in distinct ways. The imaging produces a color map according to how cervical tissues respond; physicians can then distinguish between healthy and diseased tissue.

"We are pleased to be the first in South Florida to implement the LUMA system at our center, and look forward to the benefits of enhanced productivity, but most importantly, we're pleased to have the ability to provide improved patient care and outcomes," says Dr. Poliakoff.

Since early 2007, when SFGOA adopted LUMA, the patient response has been extremely positive. "With the implementation of this imaging system, women have experienced an increase in their sense of well-being, and an enhancement to their peace of mind," shares Dr. Poliakoff. "This is the most advanced equipment we have, and its space-age-technology is providing us with improved accuracy, which in turn, provides our patients with a better quality of life. We couldn't be more pleased."

SFGOA says the decision to partner with San Diego based SpectraScience by offering the corporation's LUMA technology was an easy one, since the center says the company is the only one that offers such an advanced technology for the detection of cervical cancer.

SpectraScience, is a medical device company that designs, develops, manufactures, and markets spectrophotometry systems capable of determining whether tissue is normal, pre-cancerous or cancerous without physically removing tissue from the body.

The corporation has filed for 60 patents worldwide on its WavSTAT(R) Optical Biopsy System and LUMA Cervical Cancer Imaging System; both are used to evaluate tissue within seconds. WavSTAT(R) uses light to optically scan tissue and provides the physician with an immediate analysis. The system is the first commercially available product that incorporates this innovative technology for clinical use. The LUMA imaging system is proven to more effectively detect cervical cancer precursors than conventional methods on the market today.

Both systems are approved by the FDA for detecting cancer and pre-cancer in the colon and cervix, and an evaluation for detection of pre-cancers of the throat ("Barrett's esophagus") is being tested.

SpectraScience says an example of an ideal patient who would benefit from LUMA is one who:

•  Is 45-years-old.
•  Has a low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion Pap test and is referred for colposcopy.
•  Undergoes the LUMA scan, and the results are blinded to the colposcopist.
•  Undergoes a colposcopic examination and areas are then identified for biopsy.

The results of the scan would then be revealed and the sites at risk for CIN 2/3+ would be identified with a yellow to blue color overlay on the cervix image. The placement of LUMA at SFGOA is part of SpectraScience's plan to target more than 6,000 family practices located throughout the Unites States as the company boosts its sales and marketing efforts.

"As we evolve, new research changes our ability to treat gynecologic issues," says Dr. Poliakoff. "The first phase is to understand the changes that will occur in a woman's life over 80 or even 90 years. In that regard, SFGOA aims to optimize her total health. Advanced screening technology is one piece of this extensive project."

The doctor adds that physicians who take a very individualized approach to treating and evaluating their female patients provide a great and valuable service. "Our next move in cancer therapy will be to look at one woman's ovarian cancer compared to another woman's, in order to determine where their particular cancers' DNA is making different types of proteins or acting in a different metabolic pathway. In that regard, we can then block the development of those metabolic pathways and ultimately intervene with different types of targeted chemotherapies or treatments."

Dr. Poliakoff says his center, SFGOA, is dedicated to continuing its tireless efforts to lead the way in cancer treatment and evaluation to save the lives of hundreds of South Florida women. The physician serves on numerous boards and committees and is an active researcher when it comes to the future of cancer prevention in women. This is demonstrated by his recent adoption of LUMA.

With the name LUMA referring to the use of light, it's appropriate that Dr. Poliakoff and SFGOA are focused on illuminating the pathway of possibilities in saving women from cervical cancer so that their health is a shining example of what a commitment to the individual patient can accomplish.

Dr. Steven Poliakoff is the Chairman of Women's & Children's Services at Mount Sinai and the Miami Heart Institute. He trained in gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins, and fellowship trained in gynecologic oncology, urogynecology, robotics, and minimally invasive surgery in the U.S., Sweden and England. He is the Medical Director of the Women's Cancer Research Foundation, which directs research for drug therapy in female disorders and cancer. Dr. Poliakoff is the former President of the American Cancer Society, is a member of a multitude of other leading medical organizations, and is an active staff member at Baptist, South Miami, Doctor's, Cedars, and Aventura Hospitals. He has repeatedly been selected as one of America's Top Doctors.