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MRI ‘Taught’ To Grade Prostate Tumors

August 11, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging
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MRI is getting more and more useful as a tool for diagnosing prostate cancer. Rutgers University researchers say they can now use it to distinguish between fast-growing and slow-growing cancers with more than 90 percent accuracy.

That would make noninvasive, radiation-safe MRI an excellent tool for helping to decide which patients need immediate treatment and which might better be served by “watchful waiting.” And it could reduce the number of invasive biopsies.

“The breakthrough we’ve had in the last few months is that we see image signatures that distinguish aggressive cancers from less aggressive ones,” said Anant Madabhushi, PhD, as quoted in a Rutgers news release. Dr. Madabhushi is associate professor of biomedical engineering at Rutgers and a member of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He added:

Now we’re getting beyond merely identifying whether a person has cancer or not. This could lead to better patient management and cost savings.

Biomedical engineering graduate student Pallavi Tiwari, PhD, will present the research results at the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention Conference in Beijing on September 22.

Drs. Madabhushi and Tiwari worked with John Kurhanewicz, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, to image prostate glands in 19 patients who later had radical prostatectomies. They used both traditional MRI and MR spectroscopy—the latter to map concentrations of the cancer-indicating chemical metabolites choline, creatine, and citrate.

The researchers then used pattern-recognition techniques to compare the MR images and spectra to digital images of the actual excised glands, which pathologists had categorized as having either aggressive or nonaggressive tumors using the Gleason Grading System. Essentially, the researchers used the images of excised glands to teach the computer system to recognize MR image and spectra patterns that correspond to various grades of cancer tissue.

Dr. Madabhushi said the technique would have to be evaluated on more people before being considered for clinical use. However, so far, so good.

Related seminar: CT/MRI of the Abdomen and Pelvis

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