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Monitoring chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer helps tailor treatment

Sep 11, 2017

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Watch the video above to learn more about how WaveCheck can help more women with breast cancer know in weeks, not months, if a breast tumour is responding to treatment.

Using WaveCheck – a non-invasive monitoring system co-invented at Sunnybrook – to see if chemotherapy is working can ensure breast cancer treatment is effective and help tailor treatments, a new paper published this week in Nature: Scientific Reports states.

WaveCheck uses ultrasound imaging and new software to detect cell death just hours after chemotherapy treatment starts. The validation study included 100 women and used WaveCheck to monitor breast cancer tumour cell death after one week and four weeks of chemotherapy treatment. The ultrasound imaging analysis helped predict the tumour’s response to the chemotherapy treatment accurately in 80 per cent of the women.

“Typically, a patient is signed up on a course of four to six months of chemotherapy treatment, with no imaging to check the response to the chemotherapy,” said Dr. Gregory Czarnota, WaveCheck co-inventor and chief of radiation oncologist at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. “Currently, we use CT scanning to see if the tumour has shrunk after the full course of chemotherapy.”

The WaveCheck system allows physicians to see if the breast cancer tumour cells are dying, and therefore make decisions about treatments much sooner.

“It is a tool to see if the chemotherapy is working,” said Dr. Czarnota. “If the chemotherapy is working and we can see cell death, we know we are on the right track and you are receiving effective treatment. If the chemotherapy is not working, this opens up the option to make changes to the treatment plan much sooner rather than continuing on that course of chemotherapy.”

The next step in this research is a randomized trial beginning this fall.

The WaveCheck technology is being commercialized in partnership with GE Healthcare and MaRs Innovation.