"Every man with suspected prostate cancer should have an MRI scan," The Guardian reports. That is the conclusion of a study looking at how well MRI scans compare with the current practice of biopsies; removing sections of prostate tissue for analysis.
Disadvantages of prostate biopsies include the fact that they can lead to a small risk of side effects, some of which can be serious, such as sepsis.
Researchers were looking at an advanced type of MRI scan, known as a multi-parametric MRI, which as well as looking at the shape and size of the prostate, can also assess other factors such as blood flow through the gland.
The scan was used on more than 500 British men. The results suggest that scanning would safely reduce the number of men needing a biopsy by about a quarter. Moreover, in men with an aggressive prostate cancer the combination of MRI scan followed by a biopsy is almost twice as likely to pick up clinically significant cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently considering this new diagnostic method to decide whether introducing it will be cost-effective.