Some prostate cancer patients unnecessarily undergo surgery or harsh treatments because science fails to identify the differences between slow-growing and aggressive forms of the disease. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes are developing technology that allows patients to safely choose to do nothing, opt for relatively mild treatments or take drastic measures.
The project is one of several Anant Madabhushi, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, is involved in.
Madabhushi brought the center and a dozen researchers to Case Western Reserve from Rutgers University this academic year. The center's overall mission is to develop the new science of using big data to identify different forms of diseases and the most effective treatments.
"The data does exist," Madabhushi said. "If someone has a disease, we can detect it. The issue is what to do next. We're detecting half-a-million cases of breast and prostate cancers each year. How do you treat them? What are the options? What is the right treatment?"
Madabhushi and Robert Veltri, an associate professor of urology at Johns Hopkins, have won a three-year, $1.2 million Department of Defense grant to develop a guide to steer prostate cancer patients to the most effective treatment.
The medical community estimates 241,740 prostate cancer cases were diagnosed nationally last year, and the number is expected to grow annually as the population ages and detection improves.
The researchers are concentrating on identifying the 15 percent of prostate cancers considered very low-risk. Sufferers are likely to survive 20 years, depending on the treatment they receive.
"We don't want to expose someone to a therapy that won't work for him," Madabhushi said.
Not only may patients suffer unnecessarily,
|Contact: Kevin Mayhood|
Case Western Reserve University