Contrast – Enhanced Ultrasound More Effective In Detecting Prostate Cancer with Less Biopsies

September 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

Screening the body for prostate cancer is often a painful process especially when biopsies have to be carried out.

Researchers from the Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals have discovered that with a contrast – enhanced ultrasound imaging, there would be less pains and better detection of high-grade prostate cancer.

The findings from the researchers have been published in “Journal of Urology” this September. The findings were taken after a Phase III clinical study.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is an improved version of conventional ultrasound. It uses contrast agents in the form of micro bubble injected into the body. The contrast agents help to measure the changes in blood flow of the person with prostate cancer. More details are provided below:

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound was found to better detect high-grade prostate cancer than conventional methods, making it a more appropriate approach for screening clinically important cancers and monitoring low-risk ones with less biopsies, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals conclude in a phase III study published online in September in the Journal of Urology.

Findings from the randomized, double-blind trial revealed the technique, which uses microbubbles to measure change in blood flow, found almost three times as many higher grade cancers using half as many needle biopsies compared to systematic biopsy methods.

“Today, a physician may sample 12 to 18 tissue cores from the prostate in order to help diagnose a patient. But with contrast-enhanced, that number drops to six or even less,” says lead author Ethan Halpern, M.D. (insert link into full name:, co-director of the Prostate Diagnostic Center Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and professor of Radiology and Urology at Thomas Jefferson University.

“So it’s less invasive, and a more effective guidance tool. We’ve found that with contrast-enhanced ultrasound, we are much more likely to detect cancers on the image, and in this case, the higher grades.”

Results from the clinical trial of 311 men, 118 of which had positive prostate cancer biopsies, revealed that targeted biopsies using contrast-enhanced ultrasound with microbubbles detected significantly more higher volume/grade prostate cancers (clinically significant) in men (55 percent) compared to a conventional prostate biopsy technique (17 percent).

Ultrasound imaging of the prostate is commonly used to assess the size of the gland and for needle placement during systematic biopsy, but is limited by difficulty in distinguishing benign from malignant tissue.

What’s makes contrast-enhanced ultrasound different is the microbubble contrast agents, tiny bubbles of gas contained within a supporting shell that are injected into the patient to help better measure changes in blood flow. Click here to read the full extract.

Although this research finding is yet to be approved by the FDA, it really shows a promising method of monitoring and detecting prostate cancer of the high-grade.

Those with low-grade prostate cancer can also benefit from this screening method.  Contrast-enhanced ultra sound have been successfully applied in Europe, now it’s the time it really gets to be used on Americans.

Screening with this ultrasound method can help to give better result and cause less pains for the patient.

So, further steps should be taken to see if this procedure would be applied as standardized screening procedure.

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