Shape of prostate and compartments within may serve as cancer indicators

February 1, 2017, Case Western Reserve University
Prostate cancer seems to induce significant changes in the shape of the prostate apex, while benign prostatic hypertrophy appears to drive the differences observed on the posterior side of the central gland for patients without cancer. Credit: Mirabela Rusu

Preliminary computerized imaging reveals the shape of the prostate and a compartment within the gland—called the transitional zone—consistently differ in men with prostate cancer than those without the disease, according to new research led by Case Western Reserve University.

The finding may provide a new avenue to diagnose the disease—perhaps even the cancer's aggressiveness.

The differences held up in comparisons of (MRI) scans of 70 patients. The scans came from three different medical institutions in Ohio and two in Sydney, Australia, on different makes and models of MRI's.

The research is published in Scientific Reports today.

"Looking at is a fundamental shift from looking at the intensity of pixels in an image to predict if a patient has ," said Anant Madabhushi, F. Alex Nason professor II of biomedical engineering and leader of the research. "Pixel intensities vary, but shape is resilient."

Variability in MRI scans can result in disagreement as to whether prostate cancer is present, in turn potentially resulting in unnecessary biopsies and treatments. The American College of Radiology and others are working to develop standards to eliminate inconsistencies in imaging.

"Here, we potentially have an image-based biomarker for prostate cancer, which is not greatly sensitive to the MRI parameters used by each institution, the maker of the MRI or the scanner itself, " Madabhushi said.

A new view

To find the differences in shapes, the researchers took images of 35 cancerous prostates, aligned them into a single frame and created a statistical shape atlas. They then took images of 35 healthy prostates, aligned them in one frame and created a second statistical shape atlas.

The researchers then aligned the two frames and controlled for size—tumors and a noncancerous condition, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (which some images in this study showed), increase the gland's volume.

Comparing cancerous and cancer-free prostates showed clear, statistically significant differences in both the shape of the transitional zone—which is in the central part of the gland—and the gland itself.

The researchers analyzed and compared the images from each of the five medical institutions and found that, no matter where the images were from, differences in shapes between cancerous and cancer-free prostates were consistent.

Madabhushi said that if shape proves to be a reliable marker of cancer, it could be combined with radiomics, which employs computer algorithms to extract differentiating features in cancerous and non-cancerous tissues.

Complementing strategy

In a paper published in the December issue of the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Madabhushi and colleagues found they could accurately identify cancer by the microarchitecture and heterogeneity of the tumor in the prostate's peripheral zone, which is the area surrounding the transitional zone.

The researchers found that aspects of cancerous features in the peripheral zone differed from cancerous features found in the rest of the gland, leading them to identify tumors there.

As with shape, the peripheral zone features held up across the institutions in Tuku, Finland; Sydney, Australia and New York City that contributed MRI scans in this study.

As a follow-up, researchers are now working to identify radiomic features from the peripheral and transitional zones along with measurements derived from the prostate shape to use as predictors of whether a patient has cancer or not.

Further, they are trying to determine whether shape can also predict if the cancer is aggressive or slow-moving—a key in determining how the disease is treated.

Explore further: Changes in benign tissue next to prostate tumors may predict biomedical recurrence

More information: Mirabela Rusu et al, Computational imaging reveals shape differences between normal and malignant prostates on MRI, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep41261

Related Stories

Changes in benign tissue next to prostate tumors may predict biomedical recurrence

July 6, 2016
Changes in benign tissues next to prostate tumors may provide an early warning for patients at higher risk for biochemical recurrence after a radical prostatectomy, a study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University ...

New computer program beats physicians at brain cancer diagnoses, could eliminate costly and risky brain biopsies

September 15, 2016
Computer programs have defeated humans in Jeopardy!, chess and Go. Now a program developed at Case Western Reserve University has outperformed physicians on a more serious matter.

New technology quantifies effects of prostate tumor laser ablation

April 19, 2016
Prostate cancers are either low-grade, low-risk forms that may be monitored but otherwise untreated. Or they're serious enough to require surgery and radiation.

DNA methylation biomarker for prostate cancer shows promise for accurately determining patient risk

December 8, 2016
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and other biomarkers are essential tools for diagnosing and monitoring prostate cancer. However, biomarkers to selectively identify patients with high risk of recurrence, those who might benefit ...

Men could be spared unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer with new detection method

April 6, 2016
Researchers are working to find a way to determine how serious prostate cancer is when first diagnosed to avoid unnecessary treatments, which can cause life long side effects and even death.

Recommended for you

From the ashes of a failed pain drug, a new therapeutic path emerges

November 16, 2018
In 2013, renowned Boston Children's Hospital pain researcher Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D., and chemist Kai Johnsson, Ph.D., his fellow co-founder at Quartet Medicine, believed they held the key to non-narcotic pain relief. ...

Repurposing FDA-approved drugs can help fight back breast cancer

November 16, 2018
Screening Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compounds for their ability to stop cancer growth in the lab led to the finding that the drug flunarizine can slow down the growth of triple-negative breast cancer in ...

Traditional chemotherapy superior to new alternative for oropharyngeal cancers

November 16, 2018
A drug increasingly used in combination with radiotherapy to treat a type of cancer that forms in the tonsils or the base of the tongue is inferior to a previously favored option, according to a large, clinical trial led ...

New 'SLICE' tool can massively expand immune system's cancer-fighting repertoire

November 15, 2018
Immunotherapy can cure some cancers that until fairly recently were considered fatal. In addition to developing drugs that boost the immune system's cancer-fighting abilities, scientists are becoming expert at manipulating ...

Anti-malaria drugs have shown promise in treating cancer, and now researchers know why

November 15, 2018
Anti-malaria drugs known as chloroquines have been repurposed to treat cancer for decades, but until now no one knew exactly what the chloroquines were targeting when they attack a tumor. Now, researchers from the Abramson ...

Standard chemotherapy treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer remains the most effective, study finds

November 15, 2018
A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the University of Birmingham has found that the standard chemotherapy used to treat a specific type of throat cancer remains the most effective.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.