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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Winter 2003 Online

Cancer Revealed: U-M and Van Andel Establish Cancer-Imaging Center!

Just a few years ago, cancer patients had to endure painful exploratory surgery so their doctors could see where their tumors were. Today, they only have to lie down in a CT scanner for a few minutes.

Tomorrow's cancer patients will have medical-imaging scans that will tell them and their doctors in minutes not only where their tumors are, but also how fast their cancer is growing, what genes inside their cancerous cells have mutated and gone out of control, what treatments might kill their cancer most effectively, and whether they're responding to treatment.

That's the vision of a new cancer-imaging center being launched by the U-M Health System and the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. The new Center for Molecular Imaging is one of only five such centers in the nation funded after a competition run by the National Cancer Institute. It will use the facilities of the U-M Cancer Center and the VARI, expanding research already in progress at both institutions and the Ann Arbor biotech firm Molecular Therapeutics. The NCI center grant, for $10 million over five years, is in addition to a $10 million program grant won last fall by U-M for brain-tumor imaging studies.

Cancer Center Director Max Wicha, M.D., notes that the center represents a third wave of discovery based on genetic research. "First, we had to learn about the genes involved in cancer. Then, we had to look at the proteins made by those genes, so we could understand what helps or hinders cancer's progress," he says. "Now, while we continue those efforts, we must harness what we've already learned, and apply it in the lab and the clinic. That's what this center will help do."

New Combination PET/CT Scanner Provides Patients with Answers Faster
Detecting cancer just became a little easier at the U-M Cancer Center. Doctors are now using an all-in-one PET/CT scanner to help in cancer detection and therapy planning. The new scanner combines the technology from positron emission tomography and computed tomography (CT) to create one highly powerful diagnostic imaging system. This technology allows more accurate cancer detection.

The benefits to the patient are tremendous -- earlier diagnosis, accurate staging and localization, precise treatment and patient monitoring. With the state-of-the-art images that the scanner provides, patients get a better chance at a good outcome and avoid unnecessary procedures. A PET/CT image also provides early detection of the recurrence of cancer, revealing tumors that may otherwise be obscured by the scarring that results from surgery and radiation therapy, particularly in the head and neck. The U-M is the only hospital in the state of Michigan offering this new technology.

You can help support the research mentioned in this article. Visit How to Support Our Mission to learn more.

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This article is part of the Cancer Center's News Archive, and is listed here for historical purposes.

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