iSGTW Feature - Grids Aid Battle Against Cancer

Feature - Grids Aid Battle Against Cancer

A digital image such as this one, showing lesions in a patient's liver, can now be distributed among participating hospitals through a grid.
Image courtesy of Ignacio Blanquer

Spanish medical staff in the region of Valencia have a new weapon in the arsenal against cancer. In January, a team of medical and computing researchers launched a grid-enabled infrastructure that shares oncological studies, digital images and reports among five hospitals in the Valencia region.

"In the field of oncology, quantification is very important for diagnosis," says Ignacio Blanquer, associate professor of computer science and researcher in the High Performance Computing and Networking Group, at Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Valencia in Spain. "The more information the radiologist has at hand, the more objective and accurate the diagnosis."

On March 22, the team Blanquer works with, led by Vicente Hernandez, will present the deployment of CVIMO, the Valencian Cyberinfrastructure of Oncological Medical Images, to the regional medical community at the Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Valencia.

Oncologists are already sharing information through CVIMO, which works with technologies currently in use at hospitals. The tools running on this infrastructure are designed for three oncological fields: liver cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the central nervous system.

A snapshot of the CVIMO user interface application.
Image courtesy of Ignacio Blanquer

The CVIMO tools are designed to obtain precise measurements of a tumor's attributes-giving more information to the oncologist. With the tools available through the infrastructure, a doctor can determine tumor dimensions, histology, tissue type, blood flow and blood vessel structure in the area surrounding the lesion.

CVIMO is not for clinical daily practice; rather it helps medical staff store and share cases that they consider relevant for research or training.

In the future, other oncological fields may be included in the infrastructure and some of the technologies used with CVIMO might be used in every day patient care.

"Distributed storage on the grid makes dynamic imaging possible. 3D analysis is finally starting to be promising for daily practice," says Blanquer. This may make it possible to identify the status of a tumor without invasive surgery, or biopsy.

"Of course," says Blanquer, "biopsy will always be a necessary last step. But, knowing if a lesion is malignant or not allows doctors to organize a surgery better and significantly reduces patient anxiety."

TRENCADIS, the architecture on which is CVIMO is deployed, uses a Web service processing interface that can be linked to the image-processing tools already deployed by the team in the EGEE infrastructure.

- Danielle Venton, iSGTW Editor