A 10-minute MRI scan could be used to screen men for prostate cancer, according to a new study.
The scans proved far more accurate at diagnosing cancer than blood tests, which look for high levels of a protein called PSA.
MRI picked up some clinicafundadoresarmenia.com serious cancers that would have been missed by PSA alone.
At present there is no national screening programme because PSA is considered too unreliable, although men over 50 can request a PSA test.
The authors of this new study suggest that prostate MRI could be used for screening, though they say a larger study would be needed to assess this.
What is prostate cancer?
- Part of the male reproductive system, the prostate gland, about the size of a walnut, is in the pelvis, below the bladder
- It surrounds the urethra – the tube that takes urine out of the body through the penis
- Cancer is abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth
- But in the prostate, it usually develops slowly
- There may be no signs or symptoms for years
- And some never develop any problems from it
- But in others, the cancer can be aggressive and deadly
- Early diagnosis and treatment is key
For the Reimagine study, which is published in BMJ Oncology, men aged 50 to 75 in London were invited for screening MRI and PSA tests, which were carried out at University College Hospital.
Of the 303 who had both tests, 48 had a positive MRI that indicated cancer and of these 25 were diagnosed with significant cancer after further tests, including biopsies.
More than half the men whose cancer was picked up on MRI had low PSA test scores below 3ng/ml, which is considered normal, and so would have been falsely reassured they were free of disease.
Prof Caroline Moore, consultant urologist UCLH and chief investigator of the study at University College London, said: “Our results give an early indication that MRI could offer a more reliable method of detecting potentially serious cancers early, with the added benefit that less than 1% of participants were ‘over-diagnosed’ with low-risk disease.”IMAGE SOURCE,UCLH
Paul Rothwell, 62, had his prostate cancer diagnosed as a result of being on the trial. It was caught early and he was successfully treated. He feels fortunate because his PSA test was negative and so would have given false reassurance had it not been for his MRI.
Paul, from Hertfordshire, told the BBC: “If I’d just had the blood test I would be carrying on life as normal walking around unaware that there was some sort of ticking time bomb inside me of a cancer slowly growing, and by the time I did find out, presumably it would have been much harder to treat and much more dangerous to me.”
PSA tests are considered useful but unreliable indicators of prostate cancer. As the trial showed, a low PSA score might miss cancer. And while high levels may indicate cancer, high PSA can also be caused by other things, such as a recent infection or vigorous exercise and sex. Even when there is cancer, PSA alone will not tell you which tumours are the aggressive ones that need treating, rather ones that can be safely left.
For the Reimagine trial, black men were five times less likely to come forward for screening than white men, even though they have a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Saran Green, another study author from King’s College London, said: “One in four black men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, which is double the number of men from other ethnicities. Given this elevated risk, it will be crucial that any national screening programme includes strategies to reach black men and encourage more of them to come forward for testing.”