New prostate cancer biopsy tool set to improve cancer detection

(Cork, Ireland, 23 November 2009) The low light detector solutions provider, SensL, today announce their involvement in developing a new medical imaging tool for prostate cancer biopsies.

This specialised prostate biopsy guidance tool is based on the diagnostic medical imaging modality – positron emission tomography (PET). It will include a miniaturised probe for direct prostate imaging and an external gamma camera to provide full PET imaging. The tool will provide several advantages over the traditional non-guided biopsy procedures:

Allow highly accurate, guided biopsies to be performed on a patient,
Help to improve prostate cancer detection and staging which in turn will help reduce health care costs
Significantly reduce patient discomfort and complications which is normally caused by non-guided biopsy methods.

Just as mammography has transformed the detection of breast cancer, this advanced image guided system has the potential to be a solution for accurate prostate cancer care.

According to the AdMe Tech Foundation (, prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 males in the USA and it has been shown that biopsies which are not guided or “blind” miss at least 20% of cancers. Additionally, the cost of unnecessary biopsy procedures is over $2 Billion in the USA alone.

SensL are in collaboration with West Virginia University (WVU) (Morganton, West Virginia, USA) in developing this biopsy tool. The SensL probe will be incorporated into the imaging system which is under development at WVU, to provide high resolution capabilities down to 1mm using a unique depth of interaction technique. This will allow a significant performance boost over using existing external based imagers. These performance capabilities which have been proven in prototypes developed so far are beyond the capabilities of current state-of-the-art systems on the market today. A combination of SensL’s low light detector technology and WVU’s biopsy imaging system forms an accurate, targeted and minimally invasive solution for prostate cancer detection.

Speaking on the choice of the low profile silicon photomultiplier detector technology from SensL, Dr. Carl Jackson, CEO of SensL says, “The bulky vacuum tube based PMT is just not made to be used in this application. With SensL’s compact, low profile design combined with user safe operating voltages, our technology is clearly the best solution.”

Commenting on the medical need for this technology, Dr Mohamad Salkini of West Virginia University Hospital states “There is a clear need for the prostate probe to aid in biopsy procedures for the prostate. The prostate imager would revolutionize prostate biopsy procedures by reduction of the false negative rate and minimizing the amount of samples required for cancer detection. Given the high level of patient discomfort during biopsy procedures, I think this will be a major relief to patients and decrease the reluctance of patients to seek prostate exams”.

The collaboration has begun work on the initial system and expects the first clinical trial to begin in 2010.

About West Virginia University

For information about research at the Center for Advanced Imaging at West Virginia University see