When you hear the words, “Lie on your side and count backward from 100,” the hardest part of having a colonoscopy screening test for colorectal cancer (CRC) is over. The CDC recommends a colonoscopy today or everyone between the age of 50 to 75 (starting at 40 for people with first degree relatives with CRC.) With personal experiences of at least a half dozen colonoscopies and with my next and most likely last exam scheduled for later this week, I believe I’m amply qualified to state that, while the procedure itself is no biggie, the preparation can be a bear. Intestinal cleansing for one to three days and fasting for up to 24-hours prior to a colonoscopy can be burdensome (which some might say is an understatement). Due most likely to the invasive concept of the procedure plus the onerous preparation, only about 40% of the U.S. population in the target age group have had colonoscopy tests as recommended.

American BioOptics (Abo), one of 50 best-in-class startups in the 2019 MedTech Innovator program, is developing the InPoint System: a first point-of-care cancer screening process using optical analysis of rectal ultrastructure (OARU). InPoint is a minimally invasive, fast, personalized cancer risk assessment procedure that does not require fasting, cleansing, or sedation.

The InPoint system relies on an instrument inserted into the rectum. It employs low-coherence enhanced backscattering (LEBS) technology, an optical method used to examine and analyze nanoscopic structural tissue changes. According to Abo, tissue changes spread throughout an organ during initial cancer stages, a concept called field carcinogenesis. InPoint uses LEBS to measure changes in the rectum by light reflection.

InPoint is not intended to replace colonoscopy tests. The purpose of Abo’s OARU screening is to identify high-risk patients who would then follow up with colonoscopies. Everyone else, however, would avoid today’s middle age rite of passage.