Mathematical model may predict PCa tumor growth, evolution
A mathematical model might someday noninvasively and accurately predict a prostate cancer tumor’s evolution, velocity of growth, and more.
In the years to come, the model studied could result in earlier prostate cancer diagnoses and less invasive testing, although a prostate cancer expert cautioned that the model makes multiple assumptions and has not been validated.
An international group of researchers, reporting their findings online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Nov. 16, 2016), used medical images to do a tissue-scale, personalized computer simulation of prostate cancer growth in an actual patient. Researchers say the data generated are easy for urologists to interpret, showing an individual’s predicted prostatic tumor growth, the cancer’s growth pattern, and velocity of growth.
“There is a lot of room for improvement in both the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. We’re using computer modeling to capture the behavior of prostate tumor growth which will hopefully lead to minimally invasive predictive procedures which can be used in clinical practice,” said study coauthor Michael Scott, PhD, of Brigham Young University, Provo, UT in a press release from that institution.
Study co-author Thomas J. R. Hughes, PhD, of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas, Austin, told Urology Times that the model represents a new dimension in medicine, called predictive medicine.
“It’s part of a theme that is developing in medicine, in which methodologies that emanate from science and engineering are being integrated into medical processes,” Dr. Hughes said. “There is already a company that is pioneering such patient diagnostic modeling in coronary artery disease, and it’s making quite a splash.”
The FDA-approved HeartFlow technology uses standard computed tomography scan data to noninvasively develop a 3-dimensional model of the coronary arteries, analyzing the impact that blockages have on blood flow. The HeartFlow analysis accomplishes essentially the same as invasive angiographies done to determine functional significance of a blockage in an artery, according to Dr. Hughes, who is a stockholder in the company and a scientific adviser.
“In prostate cancer, we’re trying to do something similar. We’re trying to create mathematical models that eventually would take all the information—the genomic information, anatomical information, physiological information, etc.—and plug it into a model,” he said.