An investigational technique being tested in humans can visualize the metabolic processes occurring in a prostate tumor in real-time, potentially providing valuable information for “watchful waiting” and other treatment strategies.

The imaging method combines the use of lactate and pyruvate with new equipment to increase the visibility of those compounds by a factor of 50,000 in an MRI scanner. The technique assesses the precise outlines of a tumor, its response to treatment, and its rate of growth.

The preclinical research demonstrated an association between the speed at which tumors metabolize nutrients and how aggressively they grow. Andrea Harzstark, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco, and colleagues said the early results in humans have validated those findings. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held in Chicago.

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