New technology created at Western University could become a game changer when it comes to treating several forms of gynaecological cancers.

Researchers at Western have created a 3D Ultrasound probe to be used to assist radiation oncologists with gynaecological cancers such as cervical, uterine and vaginal.

“It’s looking at a particular procedure for gynaecological cancers and right now they don’t have a lot of imaging when it comes to that procedure,” says Jessica Rodgers, a PhD candidate at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

The procedure uses operative needles that send radioactive sources into the tumour.

Before the introduction of this technology, clinicians would use pre-operative imaging to place the needles using ‘feel’ while a patient is under anesthesia.

It was difficult for radiation oncologists who approached the research team to work on a solution.

The study’s principal investigator, Aaron Fenster, says, “They come to us with these very significant problems and we try to work together side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, so to speak with the physicians in inventing a technology to meet this specific clinical problem.”

The new 3D Ultrasound probe helps take away the guess-work during treatment.

“Generally when you’re inserting the needles for gynaecological cancers you’re really close to other critical organs like your bladder and rectum that you generally don’t want to overexpose to radiation. And also if you have those needles properly positioned you optimize the dose of the radiation that the tumour itself is getting,” Rodgers adds.

The 3D Ultrasound device has already been used in a small clinical trial on six patients at the London Regional Cancer Centre.

The team hopes this new technology will one day become a part of everyday clinical practice.