Posts Tagged ‘histoscanning’

On the road to improve prostate biopsy

Author-Writer: Dror Nir, PhD

Urologists are in constant search for a method that will improve the outcome of prostate biopsy, particularly when it comes to ruling-in and ruling-out clinically significant prostate cancer. As stated in my recent post – State of the art in oncologic imaging of Prostate; “The disease’s staging and related prognosis are determined during diagnosis based on PSA level and the Gleason score of biopsy’s samples. Although prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening resulted in the diagnosis of prostate cancer at earlier stages and with lower Gleason scores, it has also contributed to concerns about over-diagnosis, overtreatment of clinically insignificant disease, associated treatment-related toxicity, and escalating costs”. I already reported in the past on research conduc ted in this area; New clinical results supports Imaging-guidance for targeted prostate biopsy and Knowing the tumor’s size and location, could we target treatment to THE ROI by applying imaging-guided intervention? Today I report on recent publication presenting the advantage of using targeted trans-perineal biopsy following HistoScanning imaging instead of systematic TRUS biopsies: Computer-aided (HistoScanning) Biopsies Versus Conventional Transrectal Ultrasound-guided Prostate Biopsies: Do Targeted Biopsy Schemes Improve the Cancer Detection Rate? (Moritz F. Hamann, Claudius Hamann, Eckhard Schenk, Amr Al-Najar, Carsten M. Naumann, and Klaus-Peter Jünemann, Urology, Volume 81, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 370-375)

I have mentioned HistoScanning (ultrasound-based tissue characterization technology which I have invented and developed to a medical device) in many of my previous posts. HistoScanning for prostate is a specific HistoScanning application that is applied to the ultrasound’s raw signal (not the image) following a comprehensive scan of the prostate capturing its entire volume. The whole process takes about ten minutes and the output is a digital 3D map of the prostate gland where locations suspicious of presenting with prostate cancer are indicated.

HistoScanning report with 2, bilateral, basal lesions.

HistoScanning report with 2, bilateral, basal lesions.


The urologist translates such map into a “prostate regional biopsy scheme” when planning his biopsies and direct the needle, under ultrasound guidance, to these predefined suspicious locations.

 The systematic biopsy patterns targeted 7 sectors bilaterally: transition zone, apex, center, and base, each medially and laterally.

The systematic biopsy patterns targeted 7 sectors bilaterally: transition zone, apex, center, and base, each medially and laterally.

In that sense, the workflow is similar to using MRI for tumor detection and creating a tumor map for targeting the biopsy.

As reasoning for conducting the study the investigators argue that: “Exact staging of prostate cancer before treatment is essential for relevant therapeutic decision making. Current procedures, such as nerve-sparing prostatectomy and brachytherapy, as well as active surveillance and future focal treatment options, depend on the reliable identification of cancerous lesions within the prostate. Systematic prostate biopsies with at least 10 to 12 cores are the current standard method to detect and locate significant prostate cancer, as scientific evidence during the last decades has shown. Nevertheless, there are no homogeneous data concerning the required number of cores and the technical approach of prostate biopsy procedures. The unstable histologic results on active surveillance and the well-known discrepancy between transrectal diagnostics and radical prostatectomy specimens underline the neces­sity to develop reliable diagnostic tools for precise detection and localization of prostate cancer. Recent data on HistoScanning computer-aided ultra-sonography have shown favorable results. To generate a greater diagnostic yield than systematic needle biopsies, we integrated HistoScanning-guided targeted biopsies in our general prostate biopsy regimen. We report the cancer detection rate in a prospective series of 80 patients.”

The study’s objective was: “To define potential improvement in prostate cancer detection by application of a computer-aided, targeted, biopsy regimen using HistoScanning.”

Materials and Methods: “The data were collected prospectively from 80 men who consecutively underwent a systematic 14-core prostate biopsy supplemented by targeted transrectal and perineal ultrasound-guided biopsies. All biopsies were performed between March 2011 and September 2011. Indications for prostate biopsy were suspicious findings at the digital rectal examination (DRE), or serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level >10 ng/mL, or both. In case of elevated serum PSA levels >4 ng/mL a PSA-velocity of >0.75 ng/mL p.a. and free-to-total PSA ratio <15% were seen as the indication for prostate biopsies. Thirty-six patients had undergone a previous transrectal prostate biopsy. All patients were informed of the mode of the extended prostate biopsy scheme and its potential complications. All patients provided written informed consent for the procedure.After indication and before starting the biopsy procedure, all patients underwent a standardized 3-dimensional (3D) transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) with an end-fire array of a BK 8818 probe. Computer-aided analysis of the raw (radio-frequency) back-scatter data was performed by using the Conformite Europeene-marked and commercially available HistoScanning device, admitted for medical use in the Euro­pean Union (software version 2.1, Advanced Medical Diag­nostics, Belgium).”

“Each patient was diagnosed preoperatively by HistoScanning, defining a maximum of 3 suspicious areas. These areas were biopsied, both transrectally and via the perineum, with a maximum of 3 cores per location.”

Results: “We detected prostatitis in 30 patients (37.5%), premalignant lesions in 10 (12.5%), and prostate cancer in 28 (35%). The transrectal technique was used to detect 78.6% of all cancers using 14 cores by systematic biopsy. With a maximum of 9 targeted cores, 82.1% of all cancers were detected with the targeted perineal approach and 53.6% were detected with the targeted transrectal approach. Although our data did not show significant difference in the performance of targeted transperineal compared with systematic transrectal biopsies, the detection rate of targeted transrectal biopsies was significantly lower.”


Conclusion: “The presented targeted biopsy scheme achieved an overall detection rate of 85% of prostate-specific antigen–relevant pathologic lesions within the prostate. Thus, the presented procedure shows an improved detection rate compared with standard systematic prostate biopsies, and the number of cores required is reduced. Furthermore, the perineal HistoScanning-aided approach seems to be superior to the transrectal approach with respect to the prostate cancer detection rate. The presented procedure might be a step toward reliable ultrasound-based tissue characterization and toward fulfilling the requirements of novel therapeutic strategies.”


The authors’ included an elaborated discussion on the background to their study and its results. This discussion is important for understanding the limitation of the study results and for putting the authors conclusion into balanced context: “When other solid-organ cancer guidelines are compared with prostate cancer guidelines, the common methods of prostate cancer detection are unmasked as an outmoded concept because cancer detection is based on chance as a result of a blinded, subjective examination. A systematic biopsy with at least 10 to 12 cores is considered the standard procedure in prostate cancer diagnostics to date. 1,2 The continuous increase in the number of biopsy cores taken over the last years has predictably improved the detection rate, but several studies report detection rates of only 30% to 40% even in repeated biopsies. 5,9 It is noteworthy that the recommendations must be seen as a compromise bbetween the cancer detection rate and the invasiveness of the surgical procedure. Modern diagnostic procedures, including magnetic resonance imaging, elastography, computerized analysis of TRUS/artificial neuronal network analysis, and HistoScanning, try to overcome this principle of approach.7,10,11 The current therapeutic concepts and further currently evolving therapy strategies depend on sophisticated prostate cancer diagnostics. It is more important than ever to look for ways to detect and locate the cancer before subjecting patients to more or less invasive procedures as the indication for surgical treatment or prostate-preserving (focal) tumor therapy. The results of magnetic resonance imaging for prostate cancer detection are very promising so far and show a sensitivity of up to 80%. Elastography has also shown promising capabilities for cancer detection, with a recent review article reporting that several studies show 74% to 75% sensitivity.11 HistoScanning has shown 93% sensitivity in detecting and locating prostate cancer. 12 As a matter of principle, our study is unable to report on the accuracy or sensitivity of prostate cancer detection because the exact number of cancer lesions in our patients collective remains incomputable. Integration of HistoScanning for guided, targeted biopsies helped us achieve a prostate cancer detection rate of 35%. These data are lower than results from current publications on initial prostate biopsies but higher than those of repeated biopsy protocols.4,5,13 Given that tumors looked for during initial biopsies are usually large and easy to detect, we believe that this finding is caused by the smaller overall risk of cancer in a repeated biopsy setting, as was the case in 37.5% of our patients (0.61 biopsies per patient). Overall, HistoScanning seems to improve selective targeting of suspicious prostate lesions. Taking into account all malignant, premalignant, and atypical histologic findings, including prostate cancer, atypical small acinar proliferations, and high-grade prostatic intraepithelial  eoplasia, the detection rate of relevant prostatic lesions by specimens from perineal-targeted biopsies rises to 47.5% and 85%, including prostatitis, respectively. Apart from the high quality of the HistoScanning tissue analysis, we believe in a significant effect of the technical approach used to perform the biopsy. As our data show, prostate cancer detection rates from specimens obtained from perineal-targeted biopsies differed significantly from the transrectal-targeted biopsy regimen, a difference that occurred independently from previous tissue analysis because both targeted approaches are aligned to the same scanning process. Compared with the transrectal approach, the perineal biopsy technique might reduce variables that can influence the needle placement. Furthermore, longitudinal biopsy punches following the axis of the prostate seem to allow more accurate sampling of the anterior part. Theoretically, because previous studies reported inhomogeneous results comparing transrectal and transperineal prostate biopsies.3,4,13 The use of a 14-gauge needle in perineal biopsies might be responsible for a systematic bias because it possibly yields more tissue than transrectal cores. Despite this potential advantage, systematic transrectal biopsies do not reflect a significant difference in the detection rate. Nevertheless, due to the individual setting, our study is unable to report standardized results on the accuracy of comparing transrectal and transperineal needle placement. Template-guided mapping biopsies have recently attracted attention because of the high rate of cancer detection as initial (75%) and even repeat biopsy procedures (46%). 14 It notably increases the ability to locate and differentiate cancer foci within the prostatic gland, implicating mapping biopsies for active surveillance or focal treatment purposes regardless of the considerable surgical trauma generated by the use of extended biopsy protocols. A reduction of tissue trauma by generating a greater diagnostic yield would be a favorable methodologic aspect as initiated by our study. Regarding cancer detection, the presented data show no significant differences between the perineal-targeted and transrectal-targeted systematic biopsy regimen, but even though considerably fewer tissue samples (14 vs 9 cores; -35%) were taken from selected prostate areas, we detected no significant limitations by the perineal approach. These data are even more encouraging when bearing in mind that the number of samples represents a crucial factor in prostate cancer detection rates, as recently reported. A critical issue in the present study is in the implementation of the modified biopsy procedures. Although the surgeons at our center are experienced in using TRUS, our data show a learning curve during the first 80 procedures. In addition, the overlaying of the HistoScanning image analysis to the B-mode grey-scale live ultrasound picture is done by the surgeon performing the biopsy. This process implies a bias in individual interpretation of the TRUS picture and manual needle guidance. The online fusion of HistoScanning with the ultrasound image presumably would increase the handling accuracy. Further methodologic limitations lie in the heterogeneous and small collective of patients that were included in the study. With regard to the reasonably high number of previous negative biopsy specimens, patient selection can affect the hit rate of positive biopsy specimens. This circumstance might make the cancer detection frequency with HistoScanning look relatively small in this particular study compared with other diagnostic methods in patients undergoing an initial biopsy, but this is due to the daily routine in an academic referral center.

For completeness of this reporting and before stating my own conclusion I bring here below two comments that were made, one by Dr. Stephen Jones of Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland, Ohio and the reply by the first author:


The promise of image-guided diagnosis and management of prostate cancer has been frustratingly elusive. Early pioneers of prostate ultrasound imaging reported that hyperechoic lesionswere indicative of malignancy, but it rapidly became clear that the opposite was actually more realistic. Even so, these hypoechoic lesions were soon shown to be poor indicators of prostate cancer. Thus, the value of visual abnormalities on grey-scale prostate ultrasound imaging remains essentially negligible with current technology. As a result, a number of alternative imaging modalities have been developed and introduced with great excitement. Typically, images in the publications showcase an apparently obvious cancer standing out in contrast to adjacent benign tissues. Unfortunately, the data still reveal minimal value from most of these technologies, and those reported in this article are similarly disappointing. HistoScanning demonstrated interesting color images, but coupled with a transperineal-targeted biopsy found exactly one more case of prostate cancer than did the current standard of care—the 14-core extended transrectal biopsy. This “difference” is actually statistically identical (P >.99). Exactly the same number of patients (n¼ 4) was found exclusively by both transperineal HistoScan-targeted biopsy as with standard transrectal biopsy, and when targeted using the transrectal approach, the technology actually missed almost half of the cancers that were identified overall. Furthermore, these data do not support the suggestion that 9 cores are less morbid or traumatic than 14 cores, and the literature is replete with reports demonstrating this is simply not true. This is especially misleading when those 9 cores come at the cost, morbidity, time, and complexity of an operation such as this performed under general anesthesia. So the real question remains whether HistoScanning or any emerging technology to image the prostate—improves visualization of prostate cancer. Although magnetic resonance imaging is beginning to show notable promise, the clinical value of most other modalities remains mostly anecdotal. As one whose desire for a solution remains frustratingly unfulfilled, I hope that some imaging technique will demonstrate clinical value during my career. J. Stephen Jones, M.D., Department of Regional Urology, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio


In accordance with your comprehensive notes, we have to search for diagnostic improvement and underline the need further investigations in the field of prostate cancer diagnostics and staging. Minimally invasive techniques, focal and targeted therapy modalities, and low-risk cancer surveillance probably are future treatment modalities for prostate malignancies that progressively challenge common diagnostic pathways. Sophisticated therapy strategies will require reliable staging results. The constant increase of cores taken during systematic prostate biopsy apparently will not overcome the well-known diagnostic uncertainties. Consequently, imaging techniques and methods of biopsy targeting will gain in importance. Clearly, the presented data do not show significant improvement in the overall detection rate of prostate cancer in our patient cohort. Further, the maximum number of 9 biopsy cores must be attributed to the initial study design and will undergo further investigation; however, the results rather support the study approach than reduce its validity. Considering the indeterminate number of cancers, the proof of superiority remains incomputable. Compared with the current standard of care of 12 to 14 cores, we detected no significant limitations, although perineal-targeted biopsies took significantly fewer cores (3-9 cores [35%]). Maintaining the detection rate unchanged and focusing on 1 to 3 preselected suspicious index lesions display a proof of principle rather than disappointing results. In line with future treatment options mentioned above, any less invasive, focused diagnostic procedure represents an encouraging advance compared with the common and recommended practice of a nonselective, systematic biopsy of the prostate to harbor cancerous tissue. Moritz F. Hamann, M.D., Department of Urology and Pediatric Urology, University of SchleswigeHolstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany

As mentioned by the authors, further improvement of the outcome of HistoScanning-based targeted biopsies of prostate is expected when an implementation of image-fusion application between the “off-line” generated 3D tumor map and the real-time ultrasound guiding the needle will be available; similar to the results presented already when using ultrasound-MRI image fusion applications for prostate biopsy. Of course, the ultimate biopsy workflow (which I am currently engaged in developing) that urologist are asking for is the one comprised of real-time ultrasound-based tissue characterization and real-time ultrasound guidance of the needle to the lesion.


1. Heidenreich A, Bellmunt J, Bolla M, et al. EAU guidelines on prostate cancer. Part 1: screening, diagnosis, and treatment of clinically localised disease. Eur Urol. 2011;59:61-71.

2. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Prostate Cancer Early Detection. Available at 2011 Accessed May 2011.

3. Abdollah F, Novara G, Briganti A, et al. Trans-rectal versus transperineal saturation re-biopsy of the prostate: is there a difference in cancer detection rate? Urology. 2011;77:921-925.

4. Hara R, Yoshimasa J, Tomohiro F, et al. Optimal approach for prostate cancer detection as initial biopsy: prospective randomized study comparing transperineal versus transrectal systematic 12-core biopsy. Urology. 2008;71:191-195.

5. Patel AR, Jones JS. Optimal biopsy strategies for the diagnosis and staging of prostate cancer. Curr Opin Urol. 2009;19:232-237.

6. Al Otaibi M, Ross P, Fahmy N, et al. Role of repeated biopsy of the prostate in predicting disease progression in patients with prostate cancer on active surveillance. Cancer. 2008;113:286-292.

7. Braeckman J, Autier P, Garbar C, et al. Computer-aided ultrasonography (HistoScanning): a novel technology for locating and characterizing prostate cancer. BJU Int. 2008;101:293-298.

8. Braeckman J, Autier P, Soviany C, et al. The accuracy of transrectal ultrasonography supplemented with computer-aided ultrasonography for detecting small prostate cancers. BJU Int. 2008;102:1560-1565.

9. Presti JC Jr, O’Dowd G, Miller C, et al. Extended peripheral zone biopsy schemes increase cancer detection rates and minimize variance in prostate specific antigen and age related cancer rates: results of a community multi-practice study. J Urol. 2003;169:125-129.

10. Turkbey B, Mani H, Shah V, et al. Multiparametric 3T prostate magnetic resonance imaging to detect cancer: histopathological correlation using prostatectomy specimens processed in customized magnetic resonance imaging based molds. J Urol. 2011;186: 1818-1824.

11. Trabulsi EJ, Sackett D, Gomella L, et al. Enhanced transrectal ultrasound modalities in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Urology. 2010;76:1025-1033.

12. Simmons LA, Autier P, Zat_ura F, et al. Detection, localisation and characterisation of prostate cancer by Prostate HistoScanning. BJU Int. 2012;110:28-35.

13. Emiliozzi P, Corsetti A, Tassi B, et al. Best approach for prostate cancer detection: a prospective study on transperineal versus transrectal six-core prostate biopsy. Urology. 2003;61:961-966.

14. Taira AV, Merrick GS, Galbreath RW, et al. Performance of transperineal template-guided mapping biopsy in detecting prostate cancer in the initial and repeat biopsy setting. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2010;13:71-77.


Other research papers related to the management of Prostate cancer were published on this Scientific Web site:

Prostate Cancer: Androgen-driven “Pathomechanism” in Early-onset Forms of the Disease

Prostate Cancer and Nanotecnology

Prostate Cancer Cells: Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Induce Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition

Imaging agent to detect Prostate cancer-now a reality

Scientists use natural agents for prostate cancer bone metastasis treatment


Prostate Cancers Plunged After USPSTF Guidance, Will It Happen Again?

Imaging agent to detect Prostate cancer-now a reality

Scientists use natural agents for prostate cancer bone metastasis treatment

Today’s fundamental challenge in Prostate cancer screening


Men With Prostate Cancer More Likely to Die from Other Causes

New Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines Face a Tough Sell, Study Suggests

New clinical results supports Imaging-guidance for targeted prostate biopsy



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Author and Curator: Dror Nir, PhD


That is the question…

We are all used to clichés such as “seeing is believing”, “seeing is knowing”, “don’t be blind” and so on. Out of our seven (natural and supernatural) senses we tend to use and trust our eyes the most. Especially, when it comes to learning, accumulation of experience and acceptance of information as correct. On the other hand, we are taught from childhood to be aware of illusions and not to judge according to looks but rather according to matter. The problem is, does one recognise the substance inside an image? To answer this, a wide-ranging discipline of image interpretation was developed alongside with imaging technology. In order not to fatigue the innocent reader, I’ll review the state of the art of imaging in medicine in subsequent posts, each dedicated to a specific modality. This post is dedicated to…

Current main trends in ultrasound imaging in cancer patients’ management;

The most used imaging modality in medicine is ultrasound. This is due to the fact that it is noninvasive, practically harmless, relatively inexpensive and fairly accessible; i.e. everyone can operate it, even a layman! No formal training or certification is required!

Interesting enough, ultrasound is labeled by the regulatory agencies, FDA and CE, as a diagnostic medical device! This is real demonstration of the aforementioned tendency to believe our eyes, even if these eyes do not see well or the brain behind them is lacking the experience required for ultrasound image interpretation.

Since “ultrasound imaging in medicine” is the subject of many text books and articles I found it  appropriate, for the sake of this post, simply  to refer the reader to Wikipedia’s page ( on ultrasound in medicine: “Diagnostic Sonography (ultrasonography) is an ultrasound-based diagnostic imaging technique used for visualizing subcutaneous body structures including tendonsmuscles, joints, vessels and internal organs for possible pathology or lesionsObstetric sonography is commonly used during pregnancy and is widely recognized by the public. In physics, the term “ultrasound” applies to all sound waves with a frequency above the audible range of normal human hearing, about 20 kHz. The frequencies used in diagnostic ultrasound are typically between 2 and 18 MHz.”

When it comes to cancer patients’ management, ultrasound provides real-time imaging of body organs at a relatively cost effective workflow. However, it suffers from lack of sensitivity and specificity, especially if the investigator is still fairly inex­perienced. Therefore, no diagnosis is confirmed without biopsy of the suspected lesion discovered during the ultrasound scan. As mentioned in my previous post; identification of suspicious lesions in the prostate during TRUS is so inconclusive that in order to reach diagnosis biopsies are taken randomly.

Did we hit the target?

To improve prostate cancer detection, various biopsy strategies to increase the diagnostic yield of prostate biopsy have been devised: sampling of visually abnormal areas; more lateral placement of biopsies; anterior biop­sies; and obtaining an increased number of cores, with up to 45 biopsy cores [1-5].

In recent years, new features such as 3D and contrast-enhanced sonography, elastography and HistoScanning were added to the basic video image in order to improve the quality of ultrasound based investiga­tion of cancer patients.

3-D Sonography.

3-D ultrasound allows si­multaneous biplanar imaging of the organ with com­puter reconstructions providing a coronal plane as well as a rendered 3-D image. This promises to improve the detection and pre-clinical grading of cancer lesions. Still, the interpretation is very much “image quality” and “user experience” dependent.

3D imaging of breast using ABUS by Siemens; using the coronal view to better investigate a lesion.



3D imaging of breast using Voluson 730 by GE; three planes are presented for review by the radiologist.



 Contrast-Enhanced Sonography.

Using intravenous micro-bubble agents in combination with color and pow­er Doppler imaging contributes to increase in the signal obtained in areas of increased vascularity. The underlying assumption is that vascularization in the tumor’s area will be more pronounced than in normal tissue. Hot off the press: The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance that supports the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound with Bracco’s SonoVue ultrasound contrast agent for the diagnosis of liver cancer [6].  The main use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound is directing biopsies to the “most suspicious” areas; i.e. those who presents higher vascularity. Never­theless, in reported clinical studies [7] targeted biopsies’ sensitivity on contrast-enhanced ultrasound was only 68%.



Elastography is an imaging technique that evaluates the elasticity of the tissue. The underlying assumption is that tumors present greater stiffness than normal tissue and therefore will be characterized by limited compressibility. The first person to introduce this concept was  Professor Jonathan Ophir, University of Huston, Texas []:
Estimation of differences in lesions’ stiffness relies  on computing the level of correlation between consecutive imaging frames while the tissue that is being imaged is subjected to changing compression, usually applied by the sonographer who manipulates the ultrasound probe. Since malignant and benign lesions exhibit similar elasticity, elastography is not suitable for lesion characterisation. Therefore, as in the previous example, elastography’s main use is identifying suspicious areas in which to take biopsies [8, 9].  Furthermore, users’ experiences related to elastography reveal a lot of controversy.  For example, according to Prof. Bruno Fornage of MD. Anderson []; “current commercially available scanners are confounded by a lack of intraobserver reliability, so that it’s not unusual to produce an opposite result on repeat testing a few seconds later”. “There are very few evidence-based non-industry sponsored studies reporting substantial superiority [of elastography] over standard grayscale ultrasound,” he said. “In fact, a sensitivity of 82% in the diagnosis of breast cancer has been reported for elastography, versus 94% for conventional grayscale ultrasound. More disturbing is that even if the technology of elastography worked flawlessly, the huge overlap in breast pathology between very firm solid benign lesions and less firm malignancies gives this technology no practical place in the differential diagnosis of solid breast masses.”



HistoScanning™ is a novel ultrasound-based software technology that utilizes advanced tissue characterization algorithms to address the clinical requirements for tissue characterization. It visualizes the position and extent of tissue suspected of being malignant in the target organ. In this respect its design is unique and superior to other ultrasound based-technologies [10, 11]. HistoScanning’s first clinically available application (since 2009) is in the management of prostate cancer patients.



HistoScanning indicating suspicious lesions superimposed on 3-D ultrasound of the prostate. The three imaging plans and 3D reconstruction of the segmented prostate are presented.



 To conclude; if we are looking to improve the current state of the art in ultrasound-based cancer patients’ management we should strive to introduce systems which will enable the medical practitioners to rule in or rule out suspicious lesions at imaging before they biopsy them. Using ultrasound just as a tool for directing biopsies as done today is not enough. Indeed, this requires capability of ultrasound-based tissue characterisation in addition to detection of ultrasound-based abnormality (i.e. circumstantial evidence for cancer). To-date, the only available system that bears the promise to provide such improvement is HistoScanning. Obviously, the level of confidence in the Negative Predictive Value of HistoScanning and future systems alike must be built to become high enough to provide the medical practitioner the reassurance and comfort that he is not missing any significant cancer by not taking a biopsy. Such confidence can only be built by subjecting these systems (i.e. HistoScanning and alike) to properly designed clinical studies and, not less important, by reporting the experience of early adopters who will test them in a controlled routine use.



  1. Flanigan RC, Catalona WJ, Richie JP, Ah-mann FR, Hudson MA, Scardino PT, de-Kernion JB, Ratliff TL, Kavoussi LR, Dalkin BL: Accuracy of digital rectal examination and transrectal ultrasonography in localiz­ing prostate cancer: results of a multicenter clinical trial of 6,630 men. J Urol 1994; 152: 1506–1509.
  2. Eichler K, Hempel S, Wilby J, Myers L, Bach­mann LM, Kleijnen J: Diagnostic value of systematic biopsy methods in the investiga­tion of prostate cancer: a systematic review. J Urol 2006; 175: 1605–1612.
  3. Delongchamps NB, de la Roza G, Jones R, Jumbelic M, Haas GP: Saturation biopsies on autopsied prostates for detecting and charac­terizing prostate cancer. BJU Int 2009; 10: 49–54.
  4. Rifkin MD, Dähnert W, Kurtz AB: State of the art: endorectal sonography of prostate gland. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1990; 154: 691– 700.
  5. Chrouser KL, Lieber MM: Extended and sat­uration needle biopsy. Curr Urol Rep 2004; 5: 226–230.
  7. Yi A, Kim JK, Park SH, Kim KW, Kim HS, Kim JH, Eun HW, Cho KS: Contrast-en­hanced sonography for prostate cancer de­tection in patients with indeterminate clini­cal findings. Am J Roentgenol 2006; 186: 1431–1435.
  8. König K, Scheipers U, Pesavento A, Lorenz A, Ermert H, Senge T: Initial experiences with real-time elastography guided biopsies of the prostate. J Urol 2005; 174: 115–117.
  9. 32 Pallwein L, Mitterberger M, Struve P, Hor-ninger W, Aigner F, Bartsch G, Gradl J, Schurich M, Pedross F, Frauscher F: Com­parison of sonoelastography guided biopsy with systematic biopsy: impact on prostate cancer detection. Eur Radiol 2007; 17: 2278– 2285.
  10. SALOMON (G.), SPETHMANN (J.), BECKMANN (A.), AUTIER (P.), MOORE (C.), DURNER (L.), SANDMANN (M.), HASE (A.), SCHLOMM (T.), MICHL (U.), HEINZER (H.), GRAFEN (M.), STEUBER (T.).Accuracy of HistoScanning for the prediction of a negative surgical margin in patients undergoing radical prostatectomy. Published online in British Journal of Urology International (BJUI). 09/08/2012.
  11. SIMMONS (L.A.M.), AUTIER (P.), ZATURA (F.), BRAECKMAN (J.G.), PELTIER (A.), ROMICS (I.), STENZL (A.), TREURNICHT (K.), WALKER (T.), NM (D.), MOORE (C.M.), EMBERTON (M.).  Detection, localisation and characterisation of prostate cancer by Prostate Hist°Scanning; Published in British Journal of Urology International (BJUI). Issue 1 (July). Vol 110, P 28-35.


 Written by Dror Nir

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The Incentive for “Imaging based cancer patient’ management”

Author and Curator: Dror Nir, PhD

It is generally agreed by radiologists and oncologists that in order to provide a comprehensive work-flow that complies with the principles of personalized medicine, future cancer patients’ management will heavily rely on “smart imaging” applications. These could be accompanied by highly sensitive and specific bio-markers, which are expected to be delivered by pharmaceutical companies in the upcoming decade. In the context of this post, smart imaging refers to imaging systems that are enhanced with tissue characterization and computerized image interpretation applications. It is expected that such systems will enable gathering of comprehensive clinical information on cancer tumors, such as location, size and rate of growth.

What is the main incentive for promoting cancer patients’ management based on smart imaging? 

It promises to enable personalized cancer patient management by providing the medical practitioner with a non-invasive and non-destructive tool to detect, stage and follow up cancer tumors in a standardized and reproducible manner. Furthermore, applying smart imaging that provides valuable disease-related information throughout the management pathway of cancer patient will eventually result in reducing the growing burden of health-care costs related to cancer patients’ treatment.

Let’s briefly review the segments that are common to all cancer patients’ pathway: screening, treatment and costs.


Screening for cancer: It is well known that one of the important factors in cancer treatment success is the specific disease staging. Often this is dependent on when the patient is diagnosed as a cancer patient. In order to detect cancer as early as possible, i.e. before any symptoms appear, leaders in cancer patients’ management came up with the idea of screening. To date, two screening programs are the most spoken of: the “officially approved and budgeted” breast cancer screening; and the unofficial, but still extremely costly, prostate cancer screening. After 20 years of practice, both are causing serious controversies:

In trend analysis of WHO mortality data base [1], the authors, Autier P, Boniol M, Gavin A and Vatten LJ, argue that breast cancer mortality in neighboring European countries with different levels of screening but similar access to treatment is the same: “The contrast between the time differences in implementation of mammography screening and the similarity in reductions in mortality between the country pairs suggest that screening did not play a direct part in the reductions in breast cancer mortality”.

In prostate cancer mortality at 11 years of follow-up [2],  the authors,Schröder FH et. al. argue regarding prostate cancer patients’ overdiagnosis and overtreatment: “To prevent one death from prostate cancer at 11 years of follow-up, 1055 men would need to be invited for screening and 37 cancers would need to be detected”.

The lobbying campaign (see picture below)  that AdmeTech ( is conducting in order to raise the USA administration’s awareness and get funding to improve prostate cancer treatment is a tribute to patients’ and practitioners’ frustration.




Treatment: Current state of the art in oncology is characterized by a shift in  the decision-making process from an evidence-based guidelines approach toward personalized medicine. Information gathered from large clinical trials with regard to individual biological cancer characteristics leads to a more comprehensive understanding of cancer.

Quoting from the National cancer institute ( website: “Advances accrued over the past decade of cancer research have fundamentally changed the conversations that Americans can have about cancer. Although many still think of a single disease affecting different parts of the body, research tells us through new tools and technologies, massive computing power, and new insights from other fields that cancer is, in fact, a collection of many diseases whose ultimate number, causes, and treatment represent a challenging biomedical puzzle. Yet cancer’s complexity also provides a range of opportunities to confront its many incarnations”.

Personalized medicine, whether it uses cytostatics, hormones, growth inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and loco-regional medical devices, proves more efficient, less toxic, less expensive, and creates new opportunities for cancer patients and health care providers, including the medical industry.

To date, at least 50 types of systemic oncological treatments can be offered with much more quality and efficiency through patient selection and treatment outcome prediction.

Figure taken from presentation given by Prof. Jaak Janssens at the INTERVENTIONAL ONCOLOGY SOCIETY meeting held in Brussels in October 2011

For oncologists, recent technological developments in medical imaging-guided tissue acquisition technology (biopsy) create opportunities to provide representative fresh biological materials in a large enough quantity for all kinds of diagnostic tests.


Health-care economics: We are living in an era where life expectancy is increasing while national treasuries are over their limits in supporting health care costs. In the USA, of the nation’s 10 most expensive medical conditions, cancer has the highest cost per person. The total cost of treating cancer in the U.S. rose from about $95.5 billion in 2000 to $124.6 billion in 2010, the National Cancer Institute ( estimates. The true sum is probably higher as this estimate is based on average costs from 2001-2006, before many expensive treatments came out; quoting from : “new drugs often cost $100,000 or more a year. Patients are being put on them sooner in the course of their illness and for a longer time, sometimes for the rest of their lives.”

With such high costs at stake, solutions to reduce the overall cost of cancer patients’ management should be considered. My experience is that introducing smart imaging applications into routine use could contribute to significant savings in the overall cost of cancer patients’ management, by enabling personalized treatment choice and timely monitoring of tumors’ response to treatment.



  1. 1.      BMJ. 2011 Jul 28;343:d4411. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4411
  2. 2.      (N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 15;366(11):981-90):

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