MRI before biopsy can avoid pain for some prostate cancer patients

22 March 2018 (Last Updated March 22nd, 2018 12:04)

Findings from an international clinical study have revealed that undergoing an MRI scan can eliminate the need for invasive biopsies in more than a quarter of men suspected of having prostate cancer.

MRI before biopsy can avoid pain for some prostate cancer patients
Approximately one in four men who had an MRI scan did not need an invasive biopsy. Credit: Cancer Research UK.

Findings from an international clinical study have revealed that undergoing an MRI scan can eliminate the need for invasive biopsies in more than a quarter of men suspected of having prostate cancer.

Commonly, a transrectal ultrasound guided (TRUS) biopsy is used to extract and analyse small tissue samples to find if an individual has prostate cancer.

However, this study, which was conducted in 500 male subjects, showed that MRI scanning can identify people who do not require the painful biopsy test.

The trial included participants who had an abnormal result from the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or rectal exam. While 50% of the subjects were tested with a traditional biopsy, the remaining had a targeted biopsy only when their MRI scans revealed abnormality.

“This study, which was conducted in 500 male subjects, showed that MRI scanning can identify people who do not require the painful biopsy test.”

It was observed that about one in four subjects who underwent an MRI did not require a biopsy, and those who did were subjected to fewer samples as their test was guided by the scan results.

Lead researcher of the study Dr Veeru Kasivisvanathan said: “We found that patients who had MRI had fewer side effects than those who just had the standard TRUS biopsy.”

Kasivisvanathan added that the MRI scan is better at indicating the specific area of the prostate that needs to be investigated, so random sampling of the whole prostate is not required.

The results obtained from the study were found to be consistent with those observed during the PROMIS study which was conducted in 2017 and involved 576 volunteers.

Cancer Research UK prostate cancer expert professor Malcolm Mason said: “Research has shown that PSA tests alone diagnose a lot of cancers that don’t need treatment.

“We need more than just PSA, and MRI could help to distinguish who needs further tests and treatment, and who doesn’t.

“There’s work to be done now to improve the availability of this type of MRI and standardise the way it’s used.”