Putting the Spotlight on Prostate Cancer Cells
Medical imaging allows physicians to see, diagnose and treat diseases hidden from normal view. The diagnosis of prostate cancer has particularly great potential to benefit from advancements in medical imaging techniques. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cancer-related cause of death in men. Each year, about 240,000 new cases are diagnosed in North America, with about 31,000 dying from the disease.
To definitively diagnose prostate cancer, patients need to undergo a needle biopsy, typically guided by ultrasound imaging. Because of poor image quality, the biopsy is currently performed “blind.” Recent innovations by Dr. Purang Abolmaesumi, Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, help identify cancerous tissue using ultrasound data in a way that has not been possible until now. The technique aims to analyze tiny variations in the ultrasound data that show differences between cancerous and normal tissue.
Abolmaesumi will use the results of this analysis to develop a “spotlight” highlighting cancerous regions during biopsies. This will provide more effective patient treatment and reduce the need for painful biopsy procedures.
Abolmaesumi’s work also aims to enable affordable, real-time, safe and continuous monitoring of the anatomy during surgical operations—something currently only possible using ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, or very expensive magnetic resonance imaging equipment. The technology Abolmaesumi is investigating would instead use ultrasound imaging, a widely available and inherently safe medical imaging technology.
Using conventional computer graphics hardware, Abolmaesumi seeks to develop faster, more affordable technologies that can fuse ultrasound and other medical imaging data in a surgical theatre for more accurate targeting.