What you need to know
- Prostate cancer that has spread can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Existing imaging techniques, like CT and bone scans, can’t always spot these tumours in bones or tell whether they are responding to treatment.
- Dr Nina Tunariu and Professor Dow-Mu Koh are investigating whether a new type of scan, called Whole Body MRI, could be a better way of detecting and monitoring prostate cancer that has spread to the bone.
- By identifying how well men are responding to treatment, Whole Body MRI could improve treatment decisions and help men live longer.
We hope this research with Whole Body MRI will generate the evidence that will bring it a step closer to being implemented in the clinic.
A new way of spotting prostate cancer in the bone
Prostate cancer that has spread often travels to the bone. It can be difficult to spot the cancer here, meaning it’s hard to diagnose and treat. Dr Nina Tunariu and Professor Dow-Mu Koh are investigating whether a new imaging technique, called Whole Body MRI (WBMRI), can accurately detect and monitor disease that has spread to the bone. This could help men get more effective treatment, sooner.
Using imaging to improve treatment
Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone has very different rates and patterns of growth than cancer still located in the prostate, which means it varies in its response to treatment.
Imaging prostate cancer that has spread to the bones can help doctors make an early and accurate assessment of whether a treatment is working or not. It means ineffective therapies can be stopped promptly, reducing unnecessary side effects and ensuring new treatments can be started more quickly.
Putting the next generation of imaging to the test
WBMRI has already been shown to be better than other scans at detecting cancer in the bone and the serious complications it causes, like spinal cord compression.
This research will evaluate how well WBMRI can measure the response of prostate cancer in the bone to treatment. The team will look at cancer samples under the microscope before and after treatment and compare the results to those from WBMRI. This will tell them whether information from WBMRI accurately reflects the number of cancer cells killed by treatment.
The team will also analyse data from over 1000 existing studies on WBMRI. This will help them determine how WBMRI compares to other imaging and blood tests we currently use to monitor the disease.
Looking to the future
Dr Tunariu and Professor Koh are confident this research will show WBMRI to be a better, faster way of monitoring prostate cancer in the bone. They hope it will lead to UK-wide clinical trials that could ultimately see WBMRI replace CT and bone scans. This will hopefully improve diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer than has spread to the bones and help more men live longer.
Reference - RIA18-ST2-023
Researcher - Dr Nina Tunariu and Professor Dow-Mu Koh
Institution - Royal Marsden Hospital
Award - £340,868.00