MRI scans are to be used as the first investigation for the diagnosis of prostate cancer from today (23 January 2017) at The James Cook University Hospital.
The news comes on the back of national research, published in the Lancet*, which has shown using advanced MRI nearly doubles the number of aggressive tumours that are caught.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, and yet testing for it is far from perfect.
Up until now if a man has a high prostate specific antigen (PSA) level in the blood he will go to hospital for a biopsy – an invasive procedure that involves taking random samples from the whole of the prostate.
However, a biopsy alone can be poor at detecting cancer which means the disease can be missed.
From today, any man referred to the Middlesbrough hospital with high PSA levels, which suggest prostate cancer might be present, will have an MRI scan, followed by a biopsy.
Consultant urologist David Chadwick, who is the Trust’s Medical Director for Planned Care, described the changes as a significant step in the way prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the future.
“We recognise that this is good practice for our patients as it speeds up the whole process, enabling them to get any treatment they need, more quickly, which is vital if it’s a cancer diagnosis,” he said.
“By having an MRI first, the subsequent biopsy (three or four days later) is much more accurate since abnormal areas of the gland can be targeted. This means that fewer biopsies are necessary. We hope that in the fullness of time fewer men will require biopsy and this has been shown in the study published in the Lancet.
“Our aim is to improve the diagnosis and management of early prostate cancer by using the best available techniques and equipment to deliver the very best care for our patients and we will also be offering this service at the Friarage Hospital when the new MRI Scanner is operational later this year.”
*A new study by University College London (UCL) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) has shown around 25,000 men could be spared a biopsy and needless treatment, if they were scanned first. A trial of 576 men across 11 NHS hospitals found that scans could help one in four men avoid further treatment.