A new ultrasound technique that measures cell death, tumor elastography, and vascular patterns can better predict how well cancer patients are responding to chemotherapy, Canadian researchers report. Typically it takes four to six months to determine response to treatment; the new technique shortens that to one to four weeks.
Rather than making a patient undergo expensive rounds of chemotherapy for six months, physicians would be able to tell right away whether the tumor is responding, according to the developers. Right now medical oncologists can’t make those decisions easily because they don’t have any quantitative imaging tools to guide them.
Michael Kolios, Ph.D., a physics professor at Ryerson University, and Dr. Gregory Czarnota, a clinician scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, both in Toronto, ON, found that when cells die, their acoustic properties change and those changes are detectable via ultrasound.
When the cells break down, the nucleus condenses, fragments, and breaks into tiny pieces, changing the ultrasound images. At first the dying tumors become brighter.