A new imaging technology that combines ultrasound and laser--called multispectral photoacoustic imaging--has been shown to be highly effective in identifying prostate cancer, according to an announcement from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The current gold standard for detecting aggressive prostate cancer versus slow growing cancer is prostate biopsy, which is invasive, carries risks of side effects and is only effective at detecting cancers 70 percent of the time.
So, seeing the need for a less invasive, more effective way of detecting cancer, this technology was created by Vikram Dogra, M.D., a professor in the university's Department of Imaging Sciences, in collaboration with Naval Rao, Ph.D., of the Rochester Institute of Technology's Center for Imaging Technology. The system bombards targeted tissue with nanosecond-long bursts of light from a laser, heating the tissue and creating thermal waves that can be detected by ultrasound. The signals are used to create an image of the tissue and observe variations in light absorption.
Different substances like lipids, water and hemoglobin respond in different ways from the laser, which can indicate the status of a tumor. For example, an increase in the level of deoxyhemoglobin would increase the odds that the targeted tissue is malignant.
"By observing increases and decreases in these things, particularly deoxyhemoglobin levels, we can tell if the tissue is malignant or benign," Dogra said in the announcement.
Earlier this year Dogra presented research at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting in which he and colleagues at the University of Rochester looked at 42 prostatectomy specimens using the new imaging technique. It predicted 25 out of 26 benign tissues correctly, and 13 out of 16 malignant tissues correctly.
Dogra, Rao and their colleagues are in the process of creating a prototype version of the imaging device, and hope to begin clinical evaluations within the next two years. They believe the technology could eventually be used to detect and track other cancers as well, including breast, kidney, liver, skin and thyroid cancers.