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New Scan May Help Find Aggressive Prostate Tumors
Date:1/27/2010

Process is among several that use a variation of MRI technology

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new imaging technology promises to achieve the long-sought goal of singling out prostate cancers that are life-threatening and require the most aggressive treatment, researchers report.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which provides information about the metabolic chemistry of suspected cancerous tissue, gave good results in a small trial in which its readings were compared with those of current measures of prostate cancer danger, according to a report published Jan. 27 in Science Translational Medicine.

"We see a good correlation with pathology defined by those methods," said Leo L. Cheng, an assistant professor of radiology and pathology at Harvard Medical School and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Prostate cancers are common among older men, but most of them are so slow-growing that they pose no danger to life. Current diagnostic techniques, which include readings of blood levels of a protein, prostate-specific antigen, cannot pick out the dangerous tumors. Doctors can take a tissue sample by doing a biopsy, but they often miss the small but deadly portion of the cancer that is growing aggressively enough to be life-threatening.

In 2005, Cheng and his colleagues found that magnetic resonance spectroscopy could distinguish cancerous from normal prostate tissue by their metabolic profiles. That's because cancerous tissue produces different chemicals than normal tissue.

Their new study used magnetic resonance spectroscopy on five cancerous prostate glands removed from men with the diagnosis. The results of the scans were compared with those of the standard technique, which judges a cancer by the degree of disorder produced by the malignancy. Five of seven regions identified as cancerous by that method scored high on a magnetic resonance spectroscopy malignancy index. T
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