AI Boosts Early Cancer Detection at WellSpan York Hospital

By Allison Gorman
Monday, December 9, 2019
Specialty: 

WellSpan Health has invested in high-resolution MRI and AI programs that enable WellSpan radiologists to detect cancer when other imaging technologies prove ineffective.


Edward Steiner, MD, Chair of Imaging and Radiation Oncology at WellSpan Health, reviews MRI scans with Gena Paul, CRNP. The AI program produces a colorized, high-resolution MRI scan with suspicious lesions highlighted that assist WellSpan physicians in identifying tumors earlier.

The American Cancer Society puts the five-year relative survival rate at nearly 100% for local and regional prostate cancer but just 30% for cancer that has spread to distant body parts. That’s why WellSpan York Hospital uses high-resolution MRI and AI technology to find and treat early prostate cancers that ultrasound-guided biopsies often miss, says Edward Steiner, MD, Chair of WellSpan Imaging and Radiation Oncology.

“The problem with ultrasound is it really doesn’t see tumors — it is usually utilized to localize the prostate,” Dr. Steiner says.

Research has shown that conventional transrectal biopsies performed by urologists miss the lesion 30%–40% of the time. That’s because the urologist can’t see the lesion, and certain areas of the prostate aren’t reachable unless they’re specifically targeted with a longer needle.

Dr. Steiner says most patients referred to WellSpan for prostate screening have had climbing PSAs and at least one negative ultrasound-guided biopsy. His team uses a multiparametric 3.0T MRI to generate some 1,500 conventional, diffusion and flow scans. The DynaCAD Prostate AI program integrates the scans to produce a colorized, high-resolution MRI with suspicious lesions highlighted.

If a biopsy is required, the MRI is sent to the OR, where it’s fused with the image of the patient in real time to guide the probe to the lesion. Since WellSpan York Hospital purchased DynaCAD Prostate, the resulting biopsies have detected cancer much more often than with ultrasound-guided biopsy alone.

“In our first 12 biopsies, all the patients had negative biopsies by conventional ultrasound,” Dr. Steiner says. “Of those 12 patients, 10 or 11 had cancer that we found early because of this new technology.”

During several of the more than 25 biopsies Dr. Steiner and his team have performed to date, they have found multiple tumors measuring 1 centimeter or less.

The advanced imaging is also used to determine disease stage and location in newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients and to screen patients who have undergone treatment but still have elevated PSAs.

Targeting the Deadliest Cancers

Multiple radiologists at WellSpan have been trained to use and interpret DynaCAD Prostate. As the only facility in South Central Pennsylvania with the program, WellSpan York Hospital receives referrals from urologists and radiation oncologists throughout York and surrounding counties.

Although prostate cancer is the most common cancer after skin cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, Dr. Steiner refers to it as “the elephant in the room” because prostate care has changed so little over the past 30 years. The availability of new technology at WellSpan to change this trend is exciting, he notes.

While AI-guided biopsies at WellSpan York Hospital are used solely to detect prostate cancer, the hospital also offers DynaCAD screening for early detection of breast cancer — the most common cancer in women — and is acquiring DynaCAD technology to detect lung cancer, the second-most-common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in men and women, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.


For more information about advanced imaging and AI technology at WellSpan York Hospital, visit WellSpan.org.