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New method to detect prostate cancer could make many biopsies unnecessary
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Germany. Doctors have long been looking for ways to do more effective early diagnosis. Researchers have now found that with the help of a so-called advanced MRI, the diagnosis of prostate cancer is significantly more reliable and effective.
The researchers at the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit found that new devices in prostate cancer lead to more successful scans. In this way, the dangerous illness can be found faster and treated more effectively. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "The Lancet".
An invasive biopsy could often be avoided
The experts called the new San devices the biggest breakthrough in prostate cancer diagnosis in decades. With a so-called advanced MRI, the number of detected tumors has almost doubled. 576 men participated in the current investigation. More than a quarter of these subjects were able to avoid an invasive biopsy using MRI scans, which can have serious side effects.
When is a biopsy usually done?
Although prostate cancer is very common, finding this type of cancer often causes problems. The diagnosis of prostate cancer is far from perfect, say the doctors. If men have high levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in their blood, a biopsy is usually done. In this case, twelve needles take a sample from the entire prostate, the researchers add.
Biopsy can lead to serious side effects
However, the PSA exam may be flawed and may not correctly identify the cancer. Or the biopsy does not recognize that the cancer is aggressive. In addition, the investigation can cause serious side effects, the scientists explain. These include bleeding, serious infections and erectile dysfunction.
In the UK, up to 120,000 men are biopsied annually
A random biopsy from the breast would not be accepted by either doctors or patients, but such an examination of the prostate is approved, explains the study author Dr. Hashim Ahmed. In the UK alone, around 100,000 to 120,000 men go through this type of treatment each year, according to the expert.
MRI scan finds 93 percent of cancers
The study used multi-parametric MRI scans in 11 hospitals in patients with high levels of PSA. With this type of treatment, 27 percent of the men examined no longer required a biopsy. A total of 93 percent of aggressive cancers were found in the patients, the experts add. In comparison, only 48 percent of cancer cases were detected by a biopsy.
The long-term results of the method remain to be seen
It is important to consider long-term survival after cancer, such as prostate cancer, the researchers say. By improving the detection of major cancers, we can have a significant impact on the likelihood of recognizing and surviving such cancers, the authors explain. However, the long-term effects of the new diagnosis can only be analyzed in ten to 15 years.
Current test system is imperfect
The current test system for prostate cancer is notoriously imperfect. A prostate biopsy is also extremely painful and uncomfortable. “The new scanning devices are really a big leap forward in the diagnosis of prostate cancer,” emphasizes Dr. Ahmed.
New type of examination could save a lot of money
The scans cost between £ 350 and £ 450. The cost of a biopsy is £ 450. So it is also possible to save money with the Skans, if the new type of examination can avoid unnecessary biopsies, the scientists explain. Early and effective detection of aggressive cancer would also result in fewer patients becoming ill and would therefore save significant treatment costs. (as)