Towards imaging at a "molecular" scale
Led by Dr. Anthony Sarran, the medical imaging department of IPC performs on average each year about 15,000 scans, 6,000 MRI and more than 8,000 X-rays and ultrasound (standard or interventional), using one of the foremost technical platforms of France (CT, MRI, ultrasound, mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, and PET scintigraphy).
These tools now allow us to identify smaller and smaller tumors or tumors in previously inaccessible locations, to assess the extent of the cancer at those sites, to accurately track the effectiveness of treatment and early detection of complications or any recurrences. This diagnostic component is completed by therapeutic activity, in which the image guides and measures its effectiveness over time: metabolic radiotherapy, minimally invasive surgery and interventional radiology.
The IPC is now one of the European pioneers of these minimally or non-invasive image-guided interventions and recently entered the field of oncology: microwave scalpels, the destruction of the tumor with heat (radiofrequency), cold (cryotherapy) or the targeted delivery of a high dose of drug through the blood vessels (chemoembolization).
In this area, the platform of gastrointestinal endosonography led by Dr. Marc Giovannini provides access to diagnostic information that long remained inaccessible. This new technique that combines ultrasound and endoscopy (a miniaturized probe is placed at the end of an endoscope) with unequaled precision, is used today to detect gastrointestinal tumors of less than 2 cm (esophagus, stomach, rectum and colon) and to view the stroma surrounding the tumor for the first time. Unlike MRI or CT, the technique can also be coupled to biopsy which gives it an interventional dimension.
The therapeutic potential of this technology is now being evaluated at the Institute. Already it is used by researchers and clinicians to confirm that the new target molecules in clinical trials at IPC have actually reached their target! Thus, having barely begun, the era of functional medical imaging now approaches the molecular component of its history.
Combined with biomarkers tomorrow it will further accelerate the evaluation of new targeted therapies.