New Imaging Technology Helps Detect Prostate Cancer and Improve its Treatment

September 10, 2010

Floyd Memorial Hospital has become the first and only hospital in the Kentuckiana area to offer a brand new type of prostate imaging software. The program, called the iCAD MRI Prostate Imaging System, post-processes raw MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data and looks for subtle differences in blood flow that the eye cannot perceive, with the idea being that cancerous cells are those that are using more blood. It’s a cutting edge advancement in prostate imaging that is helping to more positively identify prostate cancer as early as possible, as well as to improve its treatment.

Providing Accurate Diagnosis and Peace of Mind

Dr. Brian Worm, a board certified radiologist, explained how the system works and the uses he sees for it in the future. “This new software is another tool in our arsenal for early and accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer. It is not used as a screening tool, and does not replace the need for biopsy, but instead is most helpful for patients who we think are highly suspicious of having prostate cancer, but whose biopsies have come back negative. Before this software was available, we really had no means of imaging the prostate gland with MRI. Urologists either had to continue performing exploratory biopsies, or settle with a “watchful waiting” approach even though they strongly suspected cancer, which results in prolonged diagnosis and delay in treatment. Now we can perform a simple, noninvasive test and help improve those patients’ chances of getting an accurate diagnosis.”

MRI

Prostate MRI imaging allows the radiologist to detect subtle differences in blood flow to the prostate gland.

Brian Worm, MD

“The new prostate MRI software that Floyd Memorial has acquired takes the raw data images from MRI to the next level. It measures subtle differences in blood flow to the prostate gland, which can determine where a cancerous area might be. This information is then used by the urologist to perform a more targeted biopsy.”

Brian Worm, MD
Board Certified Radiologist
Radiology Associates, Inc.

Dr. Dennis Smith, a board certified urologist, elaborated, “The gold standard for prostate cancer screening is still a blood test to determine levels of Prostate Specific Antigens (PSA), which are proteins released by the prostate gland that can be elevated due to cancer, inflammation or enlargement, and a digital rectal exam by the physician to detect abnormal physical anatomy, which can be completely benign or indicative of cancer. If one or both of these tests is positive, we may then perform a routine, in-office, ultrasound-guided rectal biopsy. It’s impossible to biopsy the entire gland, so we try to take several samples from different areas in hopes that it will give us an accurate diagnosis. But sometimes the cancer is in a difficult-to-access location and we get a negative biopsy result on a patient that we really feel has a high likelihood of cancer. That’s when I’ll send them for a prostate MRI. If it comes back without finding any suspicious areas, we can feel more confident in the “watchful waiting” approach. But if it shows areas of concern, I’ll perform an ultrasound-guided perineal biopsy in the operating room that is slightly more invasive, but allows me to biopsy the exact area that’s in question and get a more definitive answer as to whether the patient has cancer or not.”

Dennis Smith, MD

“I’ve been able to utilize the new Prostate MRI capabilities to my patients’ benefit quite a bit. The only true way to diagnose prostate cancer is through a biopsy. Prostate MRI provides a simple, noninvasive way to screen suspicious patients who have had negative biopsies and determine if further, more invasive biopsies are needed to prove that cancer is present or not.”

Dennis Smith, MD
Board Certified Urologist
Allied Urology, PSC

Improving Accuracy of Cancer Treatment

Dr. B. Oliapuram Jose, a board certified radiation oncologist, explained the software’s uses for improving the accuracy of radiation therapy treatment for prostate cancer. “We’ve traditionally used CAT (computed axial tomography) scans for guidance when doing our pre-treatment planning for internal organs and tissues such as the prostate gland, while MRI has been used for more structural abnormalities. But with the introduction of this new software, we can now incorporate the MRI scans into our planning as well, which allows us to more accurately target the cancerous area and prevent harming the normal surrounding tissues. Not only does this method save healthy tissue, it also improves dose distribution to the cancerous area. We can put a higher dose of radiation exactly where the MRI tells us the cancer is located.”

B. Oliapuram Jose, MD, FACR

“Prostate MRI capabilities are allowing us to take targeted radiation therapy one step further. Standard treatment protocol currently involves radiating the entire prostate gland, but with the assistance of Prostate MRI scans, we can single out the cancerous area with remarkable accuracy within one millimeter-which allows for incredibly targeted dose distribution to the cancerous tissue, while preserving healthy surrounding tissue.”

B. Oliapuram Jose, MD, FACR
Board Certified Radiation Oncologist
Cancer Center of Indiana

For more information on prostate cancer treatment options available at the Floyd Memorial Cancer Center of Indiana, call 812-945-4000 today.