At present, the diagnosis of a suspected prostate cancer is based on digital rectal examination and on the levels of PSA in blood. Whenever either of these two parameters, or both, gives abnormal results, a diagnosis confirmation is carried out, that is, a biopsy allowing tissue samples to be taken from different parts of the prostate. “Normally, these core samples are ultrasound-guided to try to obtain samples representative of the whole gland, but the ultrasound itself cannot localize the cancer”, explains Dr Carlos Nuñez, Head of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid Urology Department. This way, tissue samples are random, which explains why up to 30% of tumors are not diagnosed by a first biopsy and why new samples must be taken.
However, the HistoScanning(™) detection system allows the tumor to be localized more effectively and therefore, to direct the biopsy towards suspicious areas, thus increasing the detection rate to 25%. By digitally processing data obtained from conventional transrectal ultrasound, the system analyzes variations in tissue caused by tumors and samples, on a color bar, the most suspicious areas. “The technique enables us to achieve a better diagnosis as it allows us to identify and localize with precision even the smallest tissue changes”, states Dr Nuñez.
From each suspicious area identified by HistoScanning(™), at least two samples are taken and, in addition, within the context of an in-depth biopsy, 12 standard core samples are included from the entire prostate. “In this way, we get good results in the identification of prostate adenocarcinoma and with very precise localization rates”, says the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid specialist.
But, in addition to making detection easier, in patients already diagnosed, HistoScanning(™) allows the tumor to be more precisely localized, which is very important when planning surgery aiming to preserve neurovascular bundles and to spare erectile function, and is also used in focal therapies.
For the moment, the technique is only applicable to patients suffering from prostate cancer, but some studies suggest it may be of use in the case of other tumors, such as ovarian tumors. Although it is too soon for absolute confirmation, specialists are optimistic that the technique will speed up the time needed to reach a diagnosis, increase sensitivity and reduce the uncertainty of traditional biopsies. “We are sure that our patients will see a marked increase in the chances of diagnosis and treatment”, states Dr Nuñez.