New Test Shows Effectiveness of Cancer Therapy in Children

September 11, 2015

CHICAGO -- (Business Wire) -- A new study shows that contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) imaging can help predict whether children with cancer will respond favorably to certain cancer drugs that target and destroy tumor blood vessels, according to physicians at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

The study used CEUS to evaluate experimental anti-angiogenic (blood vessel targeting) cancer therapy in 13 children with metastatic tumors who had failed to respond to earlier therapy and were considered incurable. CEUS appears to be more accurate than CT or MR in predicting which children will benefit from these agents.

"Cancer requires the development of new blood vessels for tumors to grow and spread" said St. Jude physician Beth McCarville, the principal investigator of the study. "Anti-angiogenic chemotherapy agents target and destroy blood vessels and inhibit tumor growth" Dr. McCarville added.

All of the children in the St. Jude study had solid tumors, which had spread. Experimental anti-angiogenic drugs were used in an effort to cut off the blood supply to the tumors. Those children who responded to the drugs had longer periods of time before tumors started to get larger and spread compared with those children who did not respond to the drugs, McCarville added.

An important benefit of CEUS imaging is that it allows us to quantify blood flow and determine if tumors are responding to the blood vessel targeting chemotherapy, whereas the conventional method of assessing these tumors with CT and MR evaluates only changes in tumor size. The St Jude investigators found that CEUS measurements predicted which patients would respond to therapy at very early time points. The results were announced today at the annual International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS) conference in Chicago.

Dr. McCarville also noted that CEUS avoids many of the problems associated with CT and MR. "Children are the perfect population for a CEUS study," Dr. McCarville said, "because CEUS allows them to avoid radiation and sedation."

Ultrasound contrast agents are liquid suspensions of biocompatible microbubbles that are smaller than red blood cells, according to Dr. Steven Feinstein, a cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Co-President of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS). He said ultrasound contrast agents are injected into an arm vein during an ultrasound scan, are expelled from the body within minutes, and do not contain dye or radioactive particles.

ABOUT ICUS: ICUS is an international, multi-disciplinary, not-for-profit medical society that is exclusively dedicated to advancing the use of contrast enhanced ultrasound diagnostic imaging to improve patient care worldwide. Founded in September 2008, ICUS brings together physicians, scientists, and other ultrasound imaging professionals from over 55 countries. ICUS members represent diverse specialties such as cardiology, radiology, vascular imaging, gastro-intestinal imaging, oncology, OB-GYN, and hepatology. For more information about ICUS, please visit


International Contrast Ultrasound Society
Robin J. Adams, 202-408-3946
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Linda M. Feinstein, 847-624-1844 or 312-876-2563
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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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