Dutch researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Academic Medical Centre (AMC) Amsterdam have developed a potential new method of identifying prostate cancer tumors. Microbubbles that act as an ultrasound contrast agent are first injected into the prostate, and because the structure of vessels within tumors is different than in normal parenchyma, offending tissue looks different on ultrasound:
The technology has been tested on four patients from whom the affected prostate was removed. Massimo Mischi of the TU/e department of Electrical Engineering explains. The location and size of the tumors turned out to match accurately with the images produced using the new technology.
Next year the research team will carry out a pilot with biopsies guided by images made using the new technology. This allows the biopsies to be targeted, and therefore more effective. In a later phase the ultrasound technology will be used to decide whether biopsies are required, which will reduce the number of biopsies carried out. The researchers expect their technology to be available in hospitals within five years. The ultimate goal is for doctors to be able to determine if an operation is necessary, and if so what kind of operation, based on the images produced, without the need for biopsies.