Project Lead(s): Ahmed El Kaffas
Liver cancer remains a leading cause of mortality in low-income nations, where 70% of cases occur. In 2008, it was estimated that, of the 750,000 new cases of liver cancer, 700,000 resulted in death.
Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver cancer. Egypt has a high incidence of hepatitis C and, consequently, a high incidence of liver cancer cases.
When liver cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is 80%.
The project sought to develop a quantitative ultrasound toolkit for the early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer.
The technology at the root of the solution relies on the conventional ultrasound. These ultrasound scanners discard the returned raw ultrasound signal (RF data) once the B-mode image is formed. The technology being evaluated uses these RF data for quantitative processing and analysis through methods known as quantitative ultrasound (QUS).
This approach allows the use of pre-existing, cost-effective portable scanners already on the market to implement the solution for detecting early HCC. The scanner used is a mid-range, low-cost scanner that is very portable in a tabloid format.
The team successfully developed a software package to be used for quantitative ultrasound analysis of liver ultrasound data. The software facilitates the use of QUS methods via a user interface that, to date, has been a limiting factor.
The team acquired preliminary data to validate the software tool and it is envisioned that the tool could be integrated into an ultrasound system for rapid diagnosis.
The software was successfully tested in animal studies through collaborators at Sunnybrook Hospital and Stanford University. The software is easy for non-experts to use.
The technology is now available to be distributed once additional testing takes place. The project team has established extensive networks with radiologists and oncologists at Stanford University, Sunnybrook Hospital and in Egypt, to aid in advocating for a screening program in rural Egypt.
The team also hopes to explore the use of quantitative ultrasound in other diseases, in order to further advance the technology and open other market opportunities.
The project team intends to apply for Transition To Scale (TTS) funding.
They plan to further validate the technology in a large patient population at clinical centres that focus on HCC and liver diseases that lead to HCC.