New imaging method shows whether treatment for advanced prostate cancer is working

April 15, 2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a new imaging technique that can measure the effectiveness of treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones. The technique involves measuring diffusion of water within tumors.

"Currently, we have no way of detecting bone tumor response to therapy, even with all of the imaging options we have available. The magnitude of this problem is huge - as many as 500,000 people in the United States have metastatic breast or prostate cancer to the bone," says study author Brian D. Ross, Ph.D., professor of radiology and biological chemistry at the U-M Medical School and co-director of the Molecular Imaging Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Results of the study, which was done in mice, appear in the April 15 issue of Cancer Research.

The imaging technique, called a functional diffusion map, uses a magnetic resonance imaging scan and special software to track the diffusion, or movement, of water through the cells. Researchers mapped the changes in diffusion over the course of treatment. The tumor cells slow the movement of water, so as those cells die, water diffusion increases.

Researchers studied metastatic prostate cancer in mice; half the mice were given chemotherapy to treat the cancer, which was in the bones, while the remaining mice served as an untreated control group. Researchers performed an MRI of bone tumors to collect diffusion data. A functional diffusion map analysis found the mice that did not receive treatment had little or no change in water diffusion, while the treated mice had progressively increasing changes in the functional diffusion map over the three weeks of treatment. Researchers could identify a statistically significant change in diffusion as early as seven days after treatment began.

At the end of the study, the researchers removed the tumors and found the functional diffusion map predicted the tumors' response to treatment. Tumors or portions of a tumor that had appeared not to change on the functional diffusion map had not responded to treatment. At the same time, the map accurately predicted which cells were responsive to the chemotherapy.

"The functional diffusion map could serve as an early biomarker indicating that a tumor is responding to treatment. This could allow patients to switch to an alternative therapy without wasting time on a treatment that is not working," says study author Kenneth Pienta, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology and director of the Urologic Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The American Cancer Society estimates 218,890 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 27,050 will die from the disease.

Ross and his colleagues have previously studied the functional diffusion map in people with brain tumors and have found the test can identify after only three weeks of treatment - more than two months earlier than traditional tests -- which patients are responding to chemotherapy or radiation.
The functional diffusion map technology is not currently being used in the clinic for prostate cancer. For information on currently available treatment options for prostate cancer, call Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125 or visit

For more information, contact:
Kara Gavin,

EMBARGOED for release at 12:01 a.m. ET April 15, 2007

In addition to Ross, study authors were Kuei Lee, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow; Sudha Sud, research associate; Charles Meyer, Ph.D., professor of radiology; Bradford Moffat, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology; Thomas Chenevert, Ph.D., professor of radiology; Alnawaz Rehemtulla, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology and environmental health sciences; and Kenneth Pienta, M.D., professor of urology and internal medicine.

Funding for the study was from the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Michigan holds a patent on this MRI diffusion technology and has licensed the commercialization rights to ImBio, LLC of Ann Arbor, in which Ross and Rehemtulla have a financial interest. A diffusion MRI can be performed on a standard MRI machine using a special workstation to compute the diffusion map. A workstation, I-ResponseTM has been developed by Cedara Software Corp. of Ontario, Canada, a division of Merge Healthcare. Ross, Rehemtulla and Chenevert, as inventors of this technology, would stand to benefit financially from any commercial products.

Reference: Cancer Research, Vol. 67, No. 8, April 15, 2007

University of Michigan Health System

Related Prostate Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Low risk of cancer spread on active surveillance for early prostate cancer
Men undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer have very low rates - one percent or less - of cancer spread (metastases) or death from prostate cancer, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Urology®, an Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA).

ESMO 2020: Breast cancer drug set to transform prostate cancer treatment
A drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancer can extend the lives of some men with prostate cancer and should become a new standard treatment for the disease, concludes a major trial which is set to change clinical practice.

Major trial shows breast cancer drug can hit prostate cancer Achilles heel
A drug already licensed for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers is more effective than targeted hormone therapy at keeping cancer in check in some men with advanced prostate cancer, a major clinical trial reports.

The Lancet: Prostate cancer study finds molecular imaging could transform management of patients with aggressive cancer
Results from a randomised controlled trial involving 300 prostate cancer patients find that a molecular imaging technique is more accurate than conventional medical imaging and recommends the scans be introduced into routine clinical practice.

Common genetic defect in prostate cancer inspires path to new anti-cancer drugs
Researchers found that, in prostate cancer, a mutation leading to the loss of one allele of a tumor suppressor gene known as PPP2R2A is enough to worsen a tumor caused by other mutations.

First prostate cancer therapy to target genes delays cancer progression
For the first time, prostate cancer has been treated based on the genetic makeup of the cancer, resulting in delayed disease progression, delayed time to pain progression, and potentially extending lives in patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer, reports a large phase 3 trial.

Men taking medications for enlarged prostate face delays in prostate cancer diagnosis
University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that men treated with medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) experienced a two-year delay in diagnosis of their prostate cancer and were twice as likely to have advanced disease upon diagnosis.

CNIO researchers confirm links between aggressive prostate cancer and hereditary breast cancer
The study has potential implications for families with members suffering from these types of tumours who are at an increased risk of developing cancer.

Distinguishing fatal prostate cancer from 'manageable' cancer now possible
Scientists at the University of York have found a way of distinguishing between fatal prostate cancer and manageable cancer, which could reduce unnecessary surgeries and radiotherapy.

Researchers find prostate cancer drug byproduct can fuel cancer cells
A genetic anomaly in certain men with prostate cancer may impact their response to common drugs used to treat the disease, according to new research at Cleveland Clinic.

Read More: Prostate Cancer News and Prostate Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to