Posts Tagged ‘imaging based cancer detection’


Reporter: Prabodh Kandala, PhD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the production and use of Choline C 11 Injection, a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agent used to help detect recurrent prostate cancer.

Choline C 11 Injection is administered intravenously to produce an image that helps to locate specific body sites for follow-up tissue sampling and testing in men with recurrent prostate cancer.

PET imaging with Choline C 11 Injection is performed in patients whose blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels are increasing after earlier treatment for prostate cancer. An elevated PSA result suggests that prostate cancer may have returned, even though conventional imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT), have not shown any signs of cancer. PET imaging is not a replacement for tissue sampling and testing.

Choline C 11 Injection must be produced in a specialized facility and administered to patients shortly after its production. While PET imaging with Choline C 11 Injection has been performed at a few facilities over the past several years, none of these facilities were approved by the FDA to manufacture the agent. The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act directed the agency to establish appropriate approval procedures and current good manufacturing practice requirements for all PET products marketed and used in the United States. The Mayo Clinic is now the first FDA-approved facility to produce Choline C 11 Injection.

“Choline C 11 Injection provides an important imaging method to help detect the location of prostate cancer in patients whose blood tests suggest recurrent cancer when other imaging tests are negative,” said Charles Ganley, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation IV in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA’s approval of Choline C 11 Injection at the Mayo Clinic provides assurance to patients and health care professionals they are using a product that is safe, effective, and produced according to current good manufacturing practices.”

The safety and effectiveness of Choline C 11 Injection were verified by a systematic review of published study reports. Four independent studies examined a total of 98 patients with elevated blood PSA levels but no sign of recurrent prostate cancer on conventional imaging. After PET imaging with Choline C 11, the patients underwent tissue sampling of the abnormalities detected on the PET scans.

In each of the four studies, at least half the patients who had abnormalities detected on PET scans also had recurrent prostate cancer confirmed by tissue sampling of the abnormal areas. PET scan errors also were reported. Depending on the study, falsely positive PET scans were observed in 15 percent to 47 percent of the patients. These findings underscore the need for confirmatory tissue sampling of abnormalities detected with Choline C 11 Injection PET scans.

Aside from an uncommon, mild skin reaction at the injection site, no side effects to Choline C 11 Injection were reported.

Choline C 11 Injection is manufactured and distributed by the Mayo Clinic PET Radiochemistry Facility in Rochester, Minn




Read Full Post »

The Incentive for “Imaging based cancer patient’ management”

 Writer: 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):

Read Full Post »