Database funding could improve diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer

A $125,000 grant from the Canadian Cancer Society will help create a database of PET/CT (positron emission tomography/computed tomography) and PET/MR (magnetic resonance) images of prostate cancer. The hope is that this database will be used to help improve diagnosis and treatment of men with prostate cancer.

The scans use radiopharmaceuticals to target prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a transmembrane protein commonly found on prostate cancer cells.

 “The idea behind this grant is to put together a database of PSMA PET/CT and PET/MR scans with annotated findings so medical professionals can scroll through cases and see the sites of prostate cancer. Our hope is this will help clinicians learn how to interpret these scans and ultimately help them to make informed treatment decisions for their patients,” says Dr. Katherine Zukotynski, Adjunct Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and lead researcher on the project.

The use of PSMA PET/CT and PET/MR scans in clinical practice is relatively new and currently only accessible through clinical trials. In fact, the first PSMA PET/MR scan in Canada was performed at St. Joseph’s Health Care London in 2016 by Dr. Glenn Bauman, Lawson Scientist and Radiation Oncologist at the London Regional Cancer Program at London Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Bauman is also part of this database project.

Studies have found these scans more accurately detect sites of prostate cancer than earlier imaging techniques, which then helps inform treatment decisions.

Dr. Zukotynski explains, “If you have an idea of the amount of disease and where it is located, and you can correlate it with prognosis, this could be very helpful. It might also allow physicians to compare current patients with patients who have similar findings, which may help determine the best therapies to try.”

There is hope that eventually this same database could lead to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning.

“PSMA PET/CT and PET/MR may be tools helpful to categorize the total burden of disease, and then establish how that disease changes with therapy. Our first step down this path is to assemble a database that can be used both for research and educational purposes.”

The database will include data from centres across Canada, with a number of researchers contributing to the project funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Other principal investigators include: Dr. Bauman; Dr. François Bénard of the BC Cancer Research Institute; Dr. Vincent Gaudet, University of Waterloo; Dr. Phil Kuo, University of Arizona; Dr. Cynthia Ménard, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montreal; and Dr. Ur Metser of the Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Carlos Uribe of the BC Cancer Research Centre and Dr. Aaron Ward of Lawson are co-applicants for the grant.

This is the part three of a three-part series on PSMA PET imaging research. Check out part one and two.

Media Contact
Amanda Taccone

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Lawson Health Research Institute
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