By staff writers

July 11, 2012 -- The quality of a blood vessel's "bend" can indicate the presence and progression of cancer, according to a study published online July 6 in Radiology.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina developed a method of using high-resolution ultrasound to identify early tumors in preclinical studies. The method is based on blood vessels' "tortuosity," or flexibility, and could be an inexpensive, noninvasive way to find small cancers.

Paul Dayton, PhD, from the university's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues conducted an animal study using the new high-resolution ultrasound method, called acoustic angiography, with an intravascular contrast agent that allowed them to acquire images of only the blood vessels.

Dayton's team found a definitive difference between vessels within and surrounding tumors, compared with those associated with normal healthy vasculature.

The group acknowledged that the method works only for tumors at a shallow depth into tissue, such as melanomas or thyroid cancer; future studies will focus on this imaging-depth issue, as well as on evaluating the technology's ability to determine a tumor's response to therapy.

Copyright © 2012

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