MRI’s are one of the most diverse and widely utilized medical imaging procedures available, and for good reason! The technology has significantly increased in quality over the years, pairs well with other procedures, exposes patients to no radiation, and allows doctors to identify medical issues and injuries that would otherwise go unnoticed— leading to the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of many diseases before they progress into something more serious.
Although MRI is most commonly utilized for soft tissue injuries or imaging of the brain, in recent years a new application for the technology has begun to emerge: aiding in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Up until a few years ago biopsies were the primary way doctors checked for prostate cancer, but the procedure is fairly invasive, uncomfortable for patients, and has a history of resulting in false positives – something that results in additional, unnecessary procedures for the patient.
Scientists believe prostate MRI’s – which have proven more effective in detecting aggressive forms of prostate cancer than biopsies – could offer a less invasive, alternative solution for patients, decreasing the amount of men that need to undergo painful biopsies.
Prostate Cancer & Biopsies
Each year there are approximately 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the US alone, making prostate cancer the 2nd most common cancer among American males. While the disease is much more common among senior patients, prostate cancer is indiscriminate and can affect men of any age.
Most men are screened for prostate cancer through regular prostate checks with their healthcare provider, but if a doctor identifies any abnormalities or suspects that a patient may be experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer then they typically refer them out for a biopsy. During the biopsy a tissue sample is collected, and that same sample is sent to a lab for testing to determine whether it contains cancerous cells.
Up until recent years biopsies were seen as the only “next step” for patients who needed to be tested for prostate cancer, but they’re not necessarily the most effective form of diagnosis and – because of the prostate’s specific location within the body – can be incredibly painful and invasive for patients. In addition to MRI’s being a less invasive and completely painless procedure, the technology has also proven more effective in accurately detecting aggressive and nonaggressive forms of prostate cancer, cutting down the number of patients who are mis-diagnosed.
Studies On MRI’s & Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Despite their historic use, biopsies have proven to be one of the least effective methods of diagnosing prostate cancer, which has paved the way for MRI’s. According to a British medical journal, almost 30% of men can avoid unnecessary biopsies if physicians utilize MRI technology in the prostate cancer diagnosis process, and by using MRI’s instead of biopsies overdiagnosis – which has proven to be a common issue associated with prostate cancer biopsies – can be avoided.
Another UK study that evaluated MRI’s and traditional biopsy’s effectiveness in correctly diagnosing prostate cancer showed that MRI was almost twice as likely to spot prostate cancer, demonstrating that there’s a real opportunity for MRI technology to be used clinically for prostate cancer diagnosis. With over one million prostate biopsies performed each year in Europe and the United States, MRI could have a huge role in diagnosing prostate cancer and a major impact in reducing the amount of biopsies implemented.
If you live in the Manhattan area and you’re experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer, take some time to sit down and talk with your doctor about your prostate cancer screening options. They’ll be able to tell you whether a biopsy or an MRI makes more sense based on your specific circumstances and medical history! If they do decide on an MRI, our team has got you covered.