Dr. Alan Nichol – Research Grant – 2011

Dr. Alan Nichol, Radiation Oncologist, BC Cancer, Vancouver, BC

Project Title: “A Phase II study using 18F-FDOPA positron emission tomography for planning of neurosurgery and assessment of resection for high-grade gliomas”

Research Summary:

Dr. Alan NicholNeurosurgeons use computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to plan surgery for malignant brain tumours. These high-grade gliomas enhance when intravenous contrast is given for brain imaging. The aim of contemporary neurosurgery is to remove as much of the enhancing tumour as possible without causing disability for patients. However, outside the enhancing area, in parts of the brain that appear merely swollen on CT and MRI, there are also tumour cells.

The 18F-FDOPA positron emission tomography (PET) tracer is an amino-acid analogue that is taken up by tumour cells. It can be injected intravenously and imaged with a PET scanner to find additional tumour cells in the parts of the brain that appear swollen. In this study, neurosurgeons will be provided with both MRI and 18F-FDOPA PET imaging for surgical planning. The extent of surgical resection will be studied by repeating the MRI and 18F-FDOPA PET imaging within a few days of surgery. It is hoped that use of the 18F-FDOPA PET imaging will facilitate better tumour resections and lead to better survival for patients.