September 28, 2009

Ultrasound can ID melanoma metastasis

Medical scientists in Germany say they've determined that ultrasound signals can be used to determine if cancer has started to spread in melanoma patients.

Dr. Christiane Voit of the Medical University of Berlin said the discovery enables physicians to decide how much surgery, if any, is required and to predict a patient's probable survival.

We have identified two ultrasound patterns of lymph node metastasis in melanoma patients, which can identify correctly any amount of tumor cells in the sentinel lymph nodes in (75 percent to 90 percent) of cases before proceeding to surgery on the sentinel lymph node, Voit said.

Voit said although her research needs to be confirmed in multi-center, randomized clinical trials, it has the potential to spare patients unnecessary surgery, especially if it was combined with ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy of lymph nodes rather than conventional surgery.

She present her research last week in Berlin during a joint meeting of the European CanCer Organization and the European Society for Medical Oncology.