The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern researchers show promise for prostate cancer screening

Mariana Alfaro, Assistant Campus Editor

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Northwestern researchers have developed a technology that may allow physicians to identify when prostate cancer has the potential to become life-threatening and when it will be non-aggressive.

This study in the field of nanocytology could help men make better decisions about what treatments to take when combating prostate cancer.

“If we can predict a prognosis with our technology, then men will know if their cancer is dangerous and if they should seek treatment,” said Vadim Backman, senior author of the study and professor of biomedical engineering at McCormick, in a news release. “Right now there is no perfect tool to predict a prognosis for prostate cancer. Our research is preliminary, but it is promising and proves that the concept works.”

Backman pioneered an optical technique called partial wave spectroscopic and has used it to study cell abnormalities in many different types of cancers. The technique detects cell features as small as 20 nanometers which would otherwise go unnoticed.

The study used Backman’s technique to analyze prostate tissue biopsies from almost 40 patients with different stages of prostate cancer. Researchers were blinded about the clinical status of the patients.

“This study has high quality data because it was done in a blinded fashion,” Backman said in the news release. “Given that even in the unblinded dataset the investigator responsible for data acquisition was unaware of the clinical status, there is no possibility of bias.”

Twitter: @marianaa_alfaro