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Men could avoid prostate biopsy with MRI

Press Association logoPress Association 20/01/2017

Suspected prostate cancer sufferers should undergo an initial MRI scan to improve detection of aggressive forms of the disease and reduce the number of men undergoing unnecessary biopsies, a study has found.

The report, published in British medical journal The Lancet, estimates an MRI could help 27 per cent of men avoid an unwarranted biopsy, during which a small sample of tissue is removed from the body for examination.

Adding an early MRI scan could also reduce the number of men who are diagnosed with a cancer that later proves harmless by 5 per cent, researchers found.

They found a multi-parametric MRI scan can provide detailed information about the cancer, such as how well-connected to the bloodstream it is, which could in turn help distinguish between aggressive and harmless types.

More than 570 men with suspected prostate cancer - that is, those found to have elevated levels of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) protein in their blood or other symptoms - were given an MRI scan followed by two types of biopsy as part of the study.

Researchers found the MRI scan correctly identified 93 per cent of aggressive cancers, while most commonly used biopsy type only diagnosed about half.

Lead author Dr Hashim Ahmed, of the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), said the current biopsy test could be inaccurate because tissue samples were selected at random.

"This means it cannot confirm whether a cancer is aggressive or not and can miss aggressive cancers that are actually there," he said.

"Because of this, some men with no cancer or harmless cancers are sometimes given the wrong diagnosis and are then treated even though this offers no survival benefit and can often cause side effects."

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