Using advanced ultrasound echo-signal analysis methods termed quantitative ultrasound (QUS), coupled with sophisticated classification tools, scientists at the Riverside Research Lizzi Center for Biomedical Engineering are breaking new ground in detecting, evaluating, treatment planning, and monitoring of prostate cancer. Our QUS-based methods for determining tissue type—which involve analyzing ultrasound echo-signal data and classifying tissue based on analysis results—produce images that display tumors in the prostate to a degree of reliability not attained by any other existing clinical imaging method. For instance, scientists at the Lizzi Center were able to generate vivid 3D images of a cancer-containing prostate gland (shown right in two separate views). The red mass (clearly seen in each view) causing the anterior of the prostate gland to bulge is an occult 12-mm tumor. This tumor was confirmed by post-surgical histology, but it was not visible in any other pre-surgical image.
Conventional prostate imaging methods do not visualize cancerous tissue. Therefore, biopsies are systematically, but blindly, obtained from multiple regions of the prostate gland, and to assure effective therapy, the entire gland is treated. Consequently, biopsies frequently contain noncancerous tissue because the biopsy misses the cancerous foci. In the case of focal disease, the biopsy can actually damage the noncancerous tissue and result in side effects more severe than would result from focal treatment. However, the QUS-based, prostate-imaging methods developed by Lizzi Center scientists pave the way for QUS-guided biopsies that will more effectively detect prostate cancer and permit targeted focal treatment that will spare healthy tissue and reduce the side effects of therapy. Lizzi Center scientists are seeking to incorporate these QUS-based methods into a commercially produced ultrasound instrument.