The Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization (CIMTEC), Western University and Claron Technology Inc. are developing hardware and novel software modules to be integrated into an image-guided oncology therapy system for wide distribution abroad by Perfint Healthcare, based in India.
“This collaborative project has the potential to profoundly impact liver cancer treatment in developing countries such as India, North Asia and part of Europe where access to CT (computed tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) scanners is extremely limited,” says Dr. Aaron Fenster, CIMTEC Centre Director and founding Director of the Imaging Research Laboratories at Robarts Research Institute at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “The big advantage is that highly accurate ablations can be performed in a procedure suite, as opposed to a CT scanner, making them more accessible, faster and much cheaper.”
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, is the fifth most commonly diagnosed malignancy and the third most frequent cause of cancer related deaths worldwide. Furthermore, the liver is the second most common site of metastatic cancer arising in other organs.
Incidence is particularly high in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa due to the large incidence of hepatitis B and C on those continents. Both hepatitis B and C are complicated by cirrhosis of the liver, which is the greatest risk factor for HCC. Recently, several Western countries have been reporting increasing trends in HCC.
Minimally invasive percutaneous techniques, such as radio-frequency (RF) and microwave (MW) ablation of malignant tissue in the liver is a rapidly expanding research field and treatment tool for patients who are not candidates for surgical resection or transplant. In some cases this acts as a bridge to liver transplantation. Due to low complication rates, faster recovery times and reported survival rates comparable to resection, the indications for these minimally invasive procedures are continually increasing. However, these methods have a higher local recurrence rate than surgical resection, mostly due to insufficient or inaccurate local ablation of cancerous cells due to the limitations of conventional ultrasound image-guidance.