Imaging Technique Could Help Fight Metastatic Cancers

Docs assessed treatment's success by watching water diffuse through tumors

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FRIDAY, April 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A new imaging technique that measures diffusion of water through tumors may help guide the treatment of advanced prostate cancer that's spread to the bones, says a study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This technique, called a functional diffusion map, uses an MRI scan and special software to monitor the movement of water through tumor cells over the course of treatment. As tumor cells die, this diffusion of water increases, the researchers explain.

In the study, the Michigan team tested the technique in mice with metastatic prostate cancer.

Mice that received chemotherapy showed progressive changes over the three weeks of treatment, while mice that did not receive chemotherapy had little or no change in water diffusion.

When the researchers removed the tumors from the mice, they found that the functional diffusion map had accurately measured tumor response to treatment. The study was published in the April 15 issue of Cancer Research.

The findings suggest that the functional diffusion map could provide an early assessment of tumor response to treatment, the scientists said. This could help patients avoid wasting time on a treatment that isn't working before they switch to an alternative therapy.

Currently, there is no way to detect bone tumor response to therapy, study author Brian D. Ross, a professor of radiology and biological chemistry at the U-M Medical School and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a prepared statement.

About 500,000 people in the United States develop metastatic prostate or breast cancers that spread to the bone, he said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about metastatic cancer.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, April 15, 2007

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