Researchers at the University of Dundee in the UK have identified a new imaging technique to enable better diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.
The team observed that the shear wave elastography (SWE) ultrasound process can be a non-invasive and less expensive alternative with more accuracy and reliability in detecting cancer.
Existing diagnostic approaches such as physical examination, blood test, biopsy and MRI scans are considered unreliable, invasive and expensive with limited availability.
University of Dundee Surgical Uro-oncology professor Ghulam Nabi said: “We are still in a position where our diagnosis of prostate cancer is extremely inefficient, leading to unnecessary treatments for many patients.
“The new method we have developed shows we can achieve much greater levels of diagnosis, including identifying the difference between cancerous and benign tissue without the need for invasive surgery.”
During the new SWE technique, the shear waves passing through a tumour are measured and leveraged to generate images of the cancerous area.
While the method has been in use for breast cancer and liver diseases, the researchers developed a new probe to facilitate its application for prostate cancer.
In a study with about 200 patients, the ultrasound technology demonstrated capability to detect 89% of prostate cancers, identify more aggressive tumours and those that have started to metastasize.
Nabi added: “We have had cases where the SWE technique has picked up cancers which MRI did not reveal.
“We really need to see this looked at on a wider scale to build more data but there is clearly the potential to really change the way we manage prostate cancer.”