Prostate Cancer Research

‘In Body Imaging BrachyVision: Improved Brachytherapy of Prostate Cancer Treatment’

University of Wollongong, NSW
Awarded 2010
Co-funded by the Rotary Club of Parramatta City

“Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men over 55 years of age and is the leading cancer in Australia and the US.”

Researcher Profile

Kevin Loo was born in 1989 in Bathurst, NSW to Malaysian-Chinese parents, Kevin moved to Wollongong to start kindergarten at the Illawarra Christian School, Cordeaux Campus 1995. His father began work at the University of Wollongong as senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism.  From an early age he was exposed to the University environment and academic life in general. At school Kevin was encouraged by an accelerated learning program throughout infants and primary school. In 1999, he was accelerated from Year 3 to Year 5 and then to Year 7 in 2000 after achieving equal first in a statewide GERRIC (Gifted Education Research Resource and Information Centre) test. Throughout high school Kevin was two years younger than his peers. This continued into university where he had enjoyed and benefited – socially and intellectually – from having peer groups from two different age groups.

Upon completing high school at the age of 16 with a sustained interest in science and mathematics, Kevin decided to pursue a course in Medical and Radiation Physics at the University of Wollongong.  The reputation of the Centre for Medical and Radiation Physics at UoW, and the fact that it was offered locally in Wollongong, reinforced his decision. Kevin was accepted into the advanced honours program and completed his honours thesis with high distinction in 2009 on the subject of episcleral eye plaque brachytherapy dose distribution. While the prostate is a different clinical context to the eye, the fundamental principles of brachytherapy remain the same.  The opportunity to complete a PhD in this area of such need seemed a natural progression of his research interest.

Project Summary

Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men over 55 years of age and is the leading cancer in Australia and the US. Prostate permanent seed implant Brachytherapy (PPB) is a newly established treatment option for prostate cancer. The effectiveness of brachytherapy is due to its ability to deliver a relatively high dose in a highly conformal fashion to a target site. However, wrong seed placement and/or motion after dropping seeds into the prostate gland leads to complications in 40% of cases; mostly related to urethra and rectum wall toxicity. To improve the quality of life for the patient, clinical outcomes and hence future health cost savings requires real-time seed position determination. This immediate feedback to the physician will identify any differences between the actual and planned seed placement. Fast intraoperative planning and subsequent planned seed placement adjustment will lead to an uncompromised and best-tailored brachytherapy cancer treatment.

This will be achieved by the development of “BrachyVision”: a fully pre-clinically commissioned prototype of a new in-body trans-rectal imaging probe (TRIP) by simultaneously fusing 3D ultrasound images of the prostate gland with radiation based images of implanted radioactive seeds providing real-time seed position in prostate imaging   combined with dynamic intraoperative dose planning. We intend to show that BrachyVision has the potential to provide essential improvements in the clinical outcomes of permanent implant brachytherapy and significant health savings. The project involves collaboration between CMRP, St George CCC and Memorial Sloan-Kettering CC, USA.

The aim of the project is to develop a prototype of a new clinical product called BrachyVision. We intend to show that BrachyVision, a new in-body imaging technique, has the potential to provide essential improvements in the clinical outcomes of permanent implant prostate cancer brachytherapy (PPB). Specific aims are to:

  • Develop the rectal BrachyVision probe that will utilise high resolution radiation imaging detectors built into conventional trans-rectal (TRUS) ultrasound probes,  currently utilised in permanent implant prostate cancer brachytherapy
  • Develop software to operate BrachyVision probe for real time seed imaging and co-registration of the images in 3D trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS) images
  • Investigate the accuracy of BrachyVision in a prostate phantom with known seed locations and in preclinical studies.

Supervisors: Professor Anatoly Rozenfeld & Dr Joseph Bucci