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Ultrasound can predict tumor burden and survival in melanoma patients
Date:9/23/2009

The researchers found that two ultrasound patterns together could correctly identify the amount of cancer cells in the lymph nodes in 80% of cases.

A balloon shape ultrasound pattern with or without loss of central echoes (where the lymph node has lost central echoes or still has some residual central echoes, but these are wandering toward the rim, giving an asymmetrical shape to the centre) was an indicator in up to 83% of cases of a large amount of cancer cells in the sentinel node. "This ultrasound pattern was a late sign, only occurring in cases of advanced metastasis," said Dr Voit.

A pattern of peripheral perfusion (where small blood vessels start to surround the lymph node) was an early sign of a small number of cancer cells present. "The early signs are signs of first disruption of the normal lymph node architecture by an early stage metastasis. The most important one is peripheral perfusion, which shows angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) is occurring," she explained.

The researchers found that these two ultrasound patterns could predict overall survival. Estimates for overall survival after five years for patients with stage I/II is between 50-90% depending on the state of the tumour. Dr Voit found that 93% of patients with neither of these ultrasound patterns, 87% of patients with peripheral perfusion, and 56% of patients with balloon shapes with or without loss of central echoes, survived for at least five years; survival without cancer spreading to other parts of the body was 74%, 60% and 26% respectively.

Dr Voit said: "For the first time we have established that ultrasound patterns can be used as criteria for diagnosing disease progression and tumour burden. Balloon shaped lymph nodes with or without loss of central echoes and peripheral perfusion are independent prognostic factors for survival."

Discovering if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is the most important factor influencing the
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
44-771-129-6986
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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