MRI scanning can reduce the need for prostate biopsy

by Kevin Turner

The biggest leap in diagnosing prostate cancer “in decades” has been made using new scanning equipment, say doctors and campaigners
— BBC 19/01/2017

...So said the BBC on 19/1/17, commenting on the results of the PROMIS study. This is a major UK research study comparing the effectiveness of standard (trans-rectal) prostate biopsy, template prostate biopsy, and MRI scans in diagnosing prostate cancer. Prostate biopsy can be unpleasant, and can have side effects. MRI detected 93% of aggressive cancers compared to 48% of cancers when the prostate was biopsied "at random". With greater use of MRI scans, up to a quarter of men who currently undergo prostate biopsy might be able to avoid biopsy altogether. This is exciting evidence. Some concern has been expressed about whether a "normal" MRI in this study might miss some cancers that could be significant. But overall this work supports greater use of MRI in the diagnosis and assessment of prostate cancer. This is something that we've been doing in Bournemouth for a couple of years. MRI is available to all men in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, and is used widely in the on-going surveillance of men in whom the prostate cancer is low risk.