Prostate cancer detection is currently done by a biopsy that is painful and involves risks. A less invasive procedure was researched and presented at the European Association of Urology Congress in Stockholm this week that may reduce or eliminate the need for biopsies.
The researchers developed a method to investigate whether and where men have prostate cancer using existing ultrasound scanners that create images in the body using sound waves. Because ultrasound is unable to determine the difference between healthy and tumor tissue in prostate cancer images, researchers used the fact that tumor tissue produces large numbers of small blood vessels that allow it to grow with a characteristic pattern.
Patients are given a single injection of a contrast medium containing tiny bubbles, which are shown by the ultrasound scanner right down to the smallest blood vessels. Using advanced image-analysis techniques that can recognize the characteristic blood vessel pattern in prostate cancer, the computer then generates an image that shows where the tumor is.
The examination takes one minute and results are available within a few minutes.
Comparing the images with the prostate after removal by surgery of 24 patients, researchers found the images were a good indication of the location and size of the prostate cancer tumors. A comparison of the new and old procedures will be carried out next by the researchers.