discoveries magazine

Prostate Mapquest

Imaging Technology Takes Aim at Aggressive Tumors

Illustration: Dan Page

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 9 U.S. men. Now, breakthrough imaging technology will allow physicians to zap such tumors with unprecedented accuracy.

Cedars-Sinai researchers are testing a system that combines two kinds of imaging with Food and Drug Administration-approved high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to diagnose and remove aggressive prostate tumors. The pilot study uses high-resolution MRI technology developed at Cedars-Sinai that improves imaging resolution by 500 percent, according to Hyung L. Kim, MD, the Homer and Gloria Harvey Family Chair in Urologic Oncology in honor of Stuart Friedman, MD. The team combines this with a positron emission tomography (PET)-MRI scan to precisely map prostate cancers, Kim says. Cedars- Sinai has the only PET-MRI machine in Southern California.

The combined images reveal abnormal areas of the prostate in a way conventional MRIs cannot. An MRI-ultrasound fusion biopsy is then performed and, if the tumor is high-grade, HIFU is used to destroy the diseased tissue.

“This is an exciting breakthrough because HIFU can be directed at cancerous tissue, so the rest of the gland can be spared,” Kim says. “That may lower rates of incontinence and erectile dysfunction seen with radical prostatectomy.” Patients also will appreciate the noninvasive diagnostic process that removes the need to cut or puncture tissue.

“The combination of better imaging and focused ablation should work for other solid tumors, like kidney, lung, and liver cancer,” Kim says. The work is part of an initiative of Cedars-Sinai Precision Health, whose goal is to match the right treatment to the right patient for the best possible outcomes.