Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American males, and is projected to affect 161,360 new patients this year alone. However, even if one in 39 men usually die of it, relative survival rates are at least 96%. Early detection through prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings, digital rectal exams (DRE), and biopsies help prevent the disease; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also now considered a viable option for managing it.
An alternative to biopsies
Over a million biopsies are conducted yearly to gauge the progression of prostate cancer, and some experts contend that this number is too high. They say that patients who show warning signs could undergo an MRI instead of immediately having a biopsy.
Conventionally, an MRI is used to get a clear picture of the prostate and determine how a cancer has spread. Trials indicate that an MRI can be also an effective intermediary in diagnosing prostate cancer. They are recommended for patients who have a consistently high PSA value or an abnormal DRE result.
Decreasing risks for complication
There’s another side to why some medical professionals push for MRIs as an alternative to biopsies. Studies show that men 65 years old or older – an age group particularly at risk for prostate cancer – are twice as likely to be hospitalized for complications following a prostate biopsy. These complications include infections, such as in the urinary tract, and flare-ups of other medical conditions.
It is a urologist’s responsibility to identify whether a patient is at higher risk for biopsy-related issues – and if other testing methods are necessary.
Lowering costs of treatment
Another study points out that MRI-guided diagnoses can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to other approaches. This is because biopsy samples tend to be collected using ultrasound – a technology that does not reveal tumors with as much detail as an MRI. An MRI in itself might be expensive, but it yields results worth a person’s life.
The Role of MRI in Prostate Cancer Management, RenalAndUrologyNews.com
John Hopkins Study Reveals Significant Rise in Prostate Biopsy Complications and High Post-Procedure Hospitalization Rate, HopkinsMedicine.org
Early MRI may lower costs for prostate cancer treatment, ScienceDaily.com
About Prostate Cancer, Cancer.org