A Study Shows That A New Type Of MRI Scan Could Speed Up And Improve The Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer

A UK study has shown that a new type of MRI scan called a multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging scan ‘PROMIS'(MP-MRI scan) could help to diagnose prostate cancer more quickly.

Using this type of scan with men who may have prostate cancer has shown that abnormal areas of the prostate can be targeted very precisely to take biopsy samples. This means that it is better at telling the difference between harmless changes in the prostate and those that need further tests. So it could save some men from needing to have prostate biopsies, which can cause bleeding and infection.

In men with prostate cancer, MP-MRI scans can give information about the tumour’s size, how densely packed its cells are, and how well it is connected to the bloodstream. This can show more clearly how quickly the cells are growing and whether they need treatment or not. This test is more likely than current tests to identify when the cells are very slow growing and would never cause any harm during a man’s lifetime. These men can then have regular monitoring rather than needing treatment. So they can avoid unnecessary treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy and their associated side effects.

The study involved 576 men in 11 UK hospitals. The researchers compared the new type of MRI scan (MP-MRI) to the standard biopsy tests. In men who were found to have a faster growing type of prostate cancer MP-MRI correctly identified 93%.

Professor Malcolm Mason, a Cancer Research UK prostate cancer expert, said the findings suggest that the NHS should consider MP-MRI for prostate cancer diagnosis. The challenge for the NHS would be how to incorporate this kind of MRI into hospitals because it needs specialist new MRI equipment. But this finding is an exciting development in prostate cancer diagnosis.
For more information please visit the ‘The Lancet’