Advances in technology now available at UT Health allow physicians to reduce the risk of unnecessary prostate biopsies, more accurately diagnose cancer, and provide a clearer picture of treatment options available.
Each year in the United States, more than one million men undergo a prostate biopsy because of an elevated prostate-specific antigen known as PSA or abnormal rectal examination. Unfortunately, up to 800,000 of them will have undergone the invasive and risky procedure for no reason, as their biopsies are likely to be negative or show non-deadly, non-aggressive disease.“For years, the traditional pathway for prostate cancer detection has been to perform a biopsy if a man had an abnormal PSA or rectal exam” said Dr. Samay Jain, vice chief of staff and division chief of urologic oncology at UT Health. “However, prostate biopsies have come under considerable fire as of late because of the significant risks of severe infection and death in certain cases.”
Fortunately, there is a better way, and it is available right here in northwest Ohio.
Advances in magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI technology, enable UT physicians to see inside the prostate in a safe and noninvasive manner to identify men who truly need biopsies.
“Prostate MRI allows us to see the prostate in a way that was never available before,” Jain said. “In the right hands, this information can be crucial in determining whether a man needs a risky biopsy or not.
“Not only does MRI help in deciding who needs a biopsy, but for those diagnosed with prostate cancer, the imaging we have aids in tailoring individual treatments for each individual patient.”
Should a patient need to undergo a biopsy, images from the MRI allow for more precise sampling from areas of concern and yield much higher cancer detection rates than performing prostate biopsies without the MRI technology.
June is Men’s Health Month, and Jain reminds men the key to early detection is starting the conversation with their physicians.
“It can be an uncomfortable topic. Men don’t like to talk about prostate screenings for a variety of reasons,” he said. “But it’s important to have the courage to broach the topic, even if their physicians don’t.
“Also, listen to your loved ones. I think there are many men who owe their lives to their wives and daughters for finally convincing them to schedule an appointment and get screened. By staying proactive, we are confident that we can decrease the number of men dying from prostate cancer in the near future.”
Current American Urological Association Guidelines recommend routine screening for healthy men between the ages of 55 and 69 and recommend a PSA and rectal exam every other year. Men outside of this age range should have a discussion with their doctor on whether prostate cancer screening is right for them.