New technology helps surgeons target prostate cancer

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LONDON (CBS) For years, doctors have used MRIs to identify suspicious parts of the prostate. Now, new medical software developed at University College London fuses MRI scans with ultrasound images to better pinpoint prostate cancer.

''What we're doing is developing a better technology to enable a doctor or surgeon to do a better job,'' said David Hawkes, a medical software developer.

Researchers say the Smart Target technology gives surgeons a clear location when inserting the needle during a biopsy.

Hawkes, a scientist, helped create the system which diagnosed his own prostate cancer three years ago and played a vital role in his treatment.

"For anybody who is diagnosed with the likelihood of cancer, it's quite a shock," Hawkes said. "But it did give me the opportunity to have the technology used on me."

Now, other men are using it, too.

In testing involving 129 men, the Smart Target software helped successfully diagnose more than 90 percent of prostate cancers.

''We're getting more accurate in how we can identify where lesions are, how we can treat lesions, remove them surgically... so it's an ongoing process," Hawkes said.

Researchers hope as the process improves, so will survival rates for millions of men.