Researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute successfully led a large global multicenter study in which they tested the speed and accuracy of a software program to automatically measure bone metastases in patients with advanced prostate cancer.

In a Duke-led randomized clinical trial, 721 men with advanced prostate cancer were evaluated using the software, the automated Bone Scan Index (aBSI) from Swedish company EXINI Diagnostics.

Clinicians must be able to reliably quantify bone metastases in advanced prostate cancer patients in order to predict their survival and to determine the best potential treatments. The current method to do so includes a CT or MRI scan along with a nuclear medicine test that involves a manual assessment of the bone metastases—a process that is subjective and time-consuming.

However, aBSI can scan radiographic studies and accurately quantify the degree of bone metastases in a matter of seconds, compared with the manual process, which can take hours, according to Andrew Armstrong, MD, associate professor of medicine and surgery and associate director of the Duke Cancer Institute’s Prostate and Urologic Cancer Center.

In addition, results of the Duke-led study—published in JAMA Oncology—show that the software was significantly better than the manual calculation at predicting survival time for patients, regardless of how widespread their bone metastases were.

“It’s important to know how widespread metastatic disease is—both for patients to understand the likely course of their disease and for doctors to determine the best potential treatments,” says Armstrong, the lead author of the study, who adds that “it’s important for doctors, patients and cancer researchers to have a reliable bone marker to better treat patients and prevent or delay bone metastases.”

Also See: Researchers to link images, phenomes to classify prostate cancer cases

“Prostate cancer commonly metastasizes to bone, and bone metastases are associated with pathologic fractures, pain and reduced survival,” state the authors of the study. “There is an unmet need for an objective and fully quantitative assessment of bone scan data.”

The researchers conclude that the study’s “data support the prognostic utility of the aBSI as an objective imaging biomarker.”

According to Armstrong, the aBSI software program is expected to be provided at no cost to patients and physicians. “This isn’t something that’s going to generate a charge—it’s free, available, and patients will not get billed for this,” he says.

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