Laser optics + ultrasound imaging = potential noninvasive test for prostate cancer

Multispectral photoacoustic imaging, which combines laser optics and ultrasound imaging technologies, can reliably distinguish between benign and malignant prostate tissue, a new study indicates.

Related: Photoacoustic tomography is ready to revolutionize

Researchers at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) looked at 42 prostatectomy specimens using the new imaging technique. Multispectral photoacoustic imaging, still in its infancy, predicted 25 out of 26 benign tissues correctly and 13 out of 16 malignant tissues correctly, says Dr. Vikram Dogra, lead author of the study.

Lipids, water, oxyhemoglobin, and deoxyhemoglobin in the blood all respond to laser light, explains Dogra. "By observing increases and decreases in these four things, we can tell if the tissue is malignant or benign," he says. "Deoxyhemoglobin is the biggest distinguisher between malignant and benign. If deoxyhemoglobin increases even slightly in intensity, the odds that the tissue is malignant increases dramatically."

Transrectal ultrasound—the current gold standard to diagnose prostate cancer—has an overall success rate of about 70%, but it's invasive, says Dogra. His research team expects that the multispectral photoacoustic technique will be clinically available in about five years, he adds.

Dogra presented his study, which  at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) annual meeting on April 18, 2013, in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/imaging/research/vikram-dogra/.

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