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Biopsy of the prostate is a vital step in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests and digital rectal exams (DREs) are important screening tools for cancer, but only examining biopsy samples of tissue from the prostate can definitively diagnose cancer.
Current biopsy procedures are constrained to using 2-dimensional (2D) ultrasound images to navigate through the prostate and guide the biopsy needle. Since men are 3-dimensional (3D) beings—as are their prostates— only using 2D guidance limits the ability of urologists or radiologists to accurately and repeatedly hit a desired 3D biopsy target.
In joint research between the London Health Sciences Centre and the Robarts Research Institute, funded by the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada, we are developing a 3D prostate biopsy system that enhances the current procedure by adding 3D ultrasound mapping of the prostate. This mapping provides a 3D coordinate system that can tell physicians exactly where they are in the prostate as they maneuver the ultrasound biopsy probe during the procedure.
The belief is that this added information will help physicians to more accurately guide biopsy needles to the desired regions of the prostate and allow them to verify that they hit the desired 3D targets.
Furthermore, the biopsy system can record the 3D location of each biopsy sample, which should improve the ability to plan and guide repeat biopsy procedures. It is our hope that providing physicians with the 3- dimensional tools to perform biopsies will improve the accuracy and efficiency of prostate cancer detection.