A relatively new diagnostic technique — combining the power of laser optics with the high resolution images of ultrasound — has been found to effectively distinguish between cancerous and healthy prostate tissues.
The finding, presented at scientific meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in Washington, D.C., this week, suggests the new technology — “multispectral photoacoustic imaging” — holds promise as a new noninvasive way to test for and detect prostate cancer and could be available within years.
In a presentation to the ARRS meeting, researchers at the University of Rochester said they used the technique to examine 42 tissue samples from cancer patients who had had their prostates removed. They found that it accurately predicted 25 out of 26 benign tissues correctly and 13 out of 16 malignant tissues, said lead researcher Vikram Dogra, M.D.
Dr. Dogra noted that fats, water, and elements — such as deoxyhemoglobin — in the blood all respond to laser light.
"By observing increases and decreases in these … things, we can tell if the tissue is malignant or benign," he said. "Deoxyhemoglobin is the biggest distinguisher between malignant and benign. If deoxyhemoglobin increases even slightly in intensity, the odds that the tissue is malignant increases dramatically."
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. Transrectal ultrasound, the current gold standard to diagnose prostate cancer, has a success rate of about 70 percent, said Dr. Dogra. But it has some significant downsides.
"Transrectal ultrasound is an invasive procedure and most men do not like it. There is a need for a new imaging technique," he said. "We expect this technique to be clinically available in about five years."
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