UI advances on prostate cancer

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UI advances on prostate cancer

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By Jenna Larson

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Urologists and radiologists are working with a new software to improve biopsies on the prostate.

“One of the first problems with prostate cancer is in the diagnosis and finding it, and currently the best way we have for looking for it is a blood test,” said Chad Tracy, a University of Iowa clinical associate professor of urology. 

Before the new software was introduced, UIHC was using a prostate-specific antigen blood test.

“Unfortunately, that test is not overly specific to prostate cancer, meaning that it can be high for other reasons,” Tracy said.

Because of this, UIHC wanted to improve prostate cancer detection, which led to the new software, he said. This new software is called MRI ultrasound fusion.

“Typically, when somebody has prostate cancer, we will do a biopsy of the prostate,” said Tracy. “When we do that, we use an ultrasound machine to see the prostate so we can perform the biopsy.”

These biopsies are taken in a long template randomly, obtaining a small sample of the prostate, which can miss more than 50 percent of cancers inside the prostate, he said. With the new MRI software, experts can get a closer look at the prostate.

“The MRI is very good for prostate cancer,” Tracy said. “In fact, it can show you 90 percent of the more concerning type of cancer.”

This new technology allows urologists to input the MRI into the ultrasound machine and then the radiologist will circle areas on the MRI that show up during the ultrasound, he said.

“Instead of taking a biopsy where you think there could be cancer, you’re taking a biopsy in the exact region with basically a target on the prostate, so you know where the MRI was abnormal,” he said.

Radiologists play a key role with detecting prostate cancers in patients.

“Our primary job is to interpret images that are provided,” said Catherine Metz, a UI clinical assistant professor of radiology.

The images provided for prostate cancers are typically through an MRI, she said.

“For this particular type of image, we are interpreting the prostate MRI and helping to interpret those images, find where we think the cancer is, and mark it so that they can fuse it with the ultrasound and biopsy it that way,” Metz said.

With the MRI ultrasound fusion software, radiologists can provide the urologists with a more precise area of where the prostate cancer is located.

“We are the first center in the state of Iowa to have this type of equipment specifically designed for the MRI to help create these images for the urologist so they can more precisely biopsy the prostate,” said Maheen Rajput, a UI clinical associate professor of radiology.

The goal with this collaborative effort is to target the areas in the prostate gland that have a chance of being a more aggressive cancer so they can try to treat those sooner rather than later, Rajput said.

“This equipment and software really helps guide urologists like Dr. Tracy to do more precise biopsies,” she said. “We are very fortunate here at the University of Iowa in our department to have this equipment and technology to provide this service with the urologists ultimately to help benefit the patients.”

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