New Study Shows Promise for Detecting Prostate Cancer

CHICAGO – Prostate cancer -- the most common cancer afflicting American men -- may be effectively diagnosed at an early stage without ionizing radiation, using a non-invasive imaging technique known as contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), according to a report announced late last week at the 25th Annual Advances in Contrast Ultrasound – ICUS Bubble Conference in Chicago.

This is particularly good news because one man dies from prostate cancer every 16 minutes in the U.S. according to statistics derived from the National Cancer Institute.

"CEUS represents an important opportunity for early detection and for guiding local therapy," according to Massimo Mischi of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Mischi spoke at the conference. His work was funded by the Dutch government.

Mischi said that prostate cancer accounts for 28% of all cancers and 11% of all deaths in men.

In current clinical practice, men with elevated levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) are considered at risk of having prostate cancer. PSA is a substance produced by the prostate gland and, when increased amounts are found in the blood, patients are typically referred for diagnostic biopsies to confirm the presence of prostate cancer.

However, PSA levels may be elevated in many men who do not have prostate cancer, and most biopsies prove to be unnecessary, according to Mischi.

"We know that as many as 76% of biopsies were in retrospect unnecessary" Mischi said. "Effective diagnostic imaging is essential because localized therapies can be effective."

Similar findings were described by Daniela Bokor of Bracco Diagnostics, who reported on a separate study sponsored by the company at medical centers in Europe.

In CEUS imaging, patients undergoing ultrasound scans receive an arm vein injection of a special contrast agent that does not contain dye and does not require ionizing radiation. CEUS imaging is FDA-approved in the United States for certain types of cardiac imaging but is approved in Europe, Canada, Asia and South America for pinpointing disease and tumors in other parts of the body as well.

"CEUS can offer a safe and cost effective means of improving the accuracy of ultrasound diagnoses," according to Dr. Steven Feinstein, Director of Echocardiography at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, director of the conference, and co-president of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society.

The society, which was launched in 2008, is the only international professional organization exclusively focused on CEUS. Its members include cardiologists, radiologists, and other medical imaging professionals and scientists from 55 countries.

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ICUS is the world’s only professional society exclusively devoted to contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) medical imaging technology.

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