Such information could be used to determine to operate and to predict patients' chances of survival, researchers believe.
Christiane Voit, of the Medical University of Berlin, and her colleagues studied ultrasound as a tool for diagnosis and planning of treatment for 850 patients. They found that two ultrasound patterns could identify the number of cancer cells in lymph nodes in 80% of patients.
Dr Voit said: ‘For the first time we have established that ultrasound patterns can be used as criteria for diagnosing disease progression and tumour burden.'
Using ultrasound to detect the presence of certain types of node metastases could mean fewer patients need surgery.
Dr Voit presented the findings at the ECCO-ESMO (European Cancer Organisation - European Society for Medical Oncology) European cancer conference this week.
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