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Imaging tools help radiologists diagnose lung cancer, save lives
Date:6/12/2014

Medical-imaging software under development at Rochester Institute of Technology could someday give radiologists a tool for measuring the growth of nodules in patients at risk of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nathan Cahill, an associate professor in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences, is creating algorithms to quantify the growth of lung nodules imaged on Computed Tomography (CT) scans. The two-year, longitudinal study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, compares existing scans of individual patients. The algorithms will analyze medical images, measuring changes in nodules to identify small cancers or, if stable, obviate unnecessary, often risky biopsies.

Simple factors can complicate the comparison of CT scans, creating extraneous information in medical images, introducing artifacts and possible errors in diagnosis.

"It's not an apples-to-apples problem with reliable correspondence between two images," Cahill said.

Discrepancies between scans of a single patient can result from differences in position and inhalation during imaging. A 10-pound weight gain between CT scans can also affect how surrounding organs push against the lungs and stretch or compress the nodules.

"Having even 1 or 2 millimeters of difference could throw off the estimates of the volumes of the nodules because the size of the nodules might be 5 millimeters or so," Cahill said. "The goal of this project is to develop an algorithm that tries to compensate for all those potential background factors."

Dr. David Fetzer, a radiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a member of the collaboration, suggested the clinical problem. Fetzer, an alumnus from the RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, had worked as an undergraduate with Maria Helguera, professor in the center, and a member of Cahill's team.


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Contact: Susan Gawlowicz
smguns@rit.edu
585-475-5061
Rochester Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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