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The Tao Brush--Good News for Uterine Cancer.

Millions of American women take hormone replacement therapies to ease the symptoms of menopause and to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Other women at high risk for breast cancer take tamoxifen to protect against breast cancer. While these therapies provide benefit, there are also potential risks.

One of the most daunting is endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus, a disease that is on the rise. Regular gynecologic exams and recognition of early symptoms are important preventive measures. If caught early, endometrial cancer can usually be successfully treated. Most frequently, a biopsy is necessary to make a firm diagnosis. Until recently, gynecologists obtained a biopsy by performing a dilation and curettage (D and C), an uncomfortable procedure with unpleasant side effects such as cramping, bleeding and pain.

Fortunately, Dr. Liang-Che Tao, Professor Emeritus of Pathology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and an inventor, has developed an alternative, less invasive, and more comfortable alternative to D and C called the Tao Brush biopsy. While widely used in Europe, the device is just now catching on in the United States at institutions such as Mercy Hospital in Iowa, New York University, and Ball Memorial in Indiana.

The Post spoke with Dr. Tao about his invention and how you can take preventive steps against the rising incidence of endometrial cancer.

"When you give tamoxifen to women as a preventive measure against breast cancer," Dr. Tao explains, "you have to tell the patient that one complication of tamoxifen is that it may cause endometrial cancer. Using the Tao Brush, you can obtain a tissue sample to screen for hyperplasia, or a precancerous condition, and catch it at that time. In this way, you don't have to worry about this complication of tamoxifen, and you can get the benefit by using it."

The same holds true for the many women on estrogen replacement therapy, which again increases the risk of developing endometrial cancer. The Tao Brush can be used to monitor the patient's condition in a painless and less costly way.

While the device has been on the market for several years, there is some reluctance to change existing diagnostic tests that have been used for years. However, the Tao Brush biopsy is covered by most insurance carriers.

Dr. Tao developed the brush for ease of use, to reduce the discomfort of obtaining a tissue sample, and to present a highly accurate method of cancer detection.

"With the Tao Brush biopsy, you can put women's fears to rest, because they can go to their OB/GYN and painlessly undergo this test," Dr. Tao adds.
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Title Annotation:Dr. Liang-Che Tao
Publication:Medical Update
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:434
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