UArizona research team developing new imaging technology to combat colorectal cancer

UArizona research team developing new imaging technology to combat colorectal cancer
File Photo: Cancer screenings (Source: HCA VA)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -A research team at the University of Arizona Health Sciences is developing a novel imaging technique to detect the spread of small liver tumors to provide better outcomes for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded a $2.2 million, five-year grant to advance the work of Maria Altbach, PhD, professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Medical Imaging at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

The grant, awarded as part of the NIH Academic Industrial Partnership program, enables scientific and engineering teams at UArizona and Siemens Healthineers to work together to enhance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for tumor detection. MRI already is regarded as the most effective imaging technique to find and classify liver neoplasms, the abnormal tissue growth commonly found in the liver when colorectal cancer is present. 

Research funded by this grant seeks to enable development of novel MRI methods to diagnose early spread of tumors as a consequence of colorectal cancer. Since the liver commonly is affected when a patient has colorectal cancer, finding early spread of cancer to the liver is crucial for patient survival. With earlier detection of smaller tumors, patients and physicians have more options for treatments, including non-surgical alternatives, as well as surgical removal of tumors.

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third-most-common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, with more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer estimated to be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 50,000 people are expected to die of colorectal cancer in 2020.

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