Prostate Cancer: New Testing for Earlier Detection

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the small, walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system. Last year, more than 31,000 men lost their lives to prostate cancer; making it just as serious for men as breast cancer is for women. As with all types of cancer, early detection is the key to preventive care, and early detection is best achieved with proactive medical screenings.

Traditional Testing

The traditional approach to detecting prostate cancer has been shown to be far less precise, more time-consuming, and more painful. A patient with elevated risk would undergo an uncomfortable procedure to remove a sample of the tissue from the prostate gland for further evaluation in a lab. Unfortunately, this only sampled about one percent of the prostate gland – often either missing the cancer completely or providing limited information about the aggressiveness of the cancer.

As a result, prostate cancer was often either under-diagnosed, leading to more advanced cancer appearing down the road, or over-diagnosed and aggressively treated when watchful waiting would have sufficed. While it is surely better than having no test at all; there has long been an opportunity to improve accuracy and patient comfortability when screening for prostate cancer.

New Testing: More Accuracy, Greater Comfort

Now, all of this is changing. There is a new and more effective tool available to detect prostate cancer earlier and with greater precision known as the Prostate MRI. This test allows doctors to better visualize the prostate gland to detect—or rule out—cancer.

With the Prostate MRI, radiologists may distinguish between the more and less threatening forms of cancer with up to 50 percent more accuracy. As an added bonus, it’s safe and completely painless for the patient, which makes preventive testing more likely.

Dr. Ross Schwartzberg, a physician at Imaging Healthcare Specialists, highly recommends the new approach for prostate cancer screening. “The goal in medicine is to evaluate and treat the patient successfully in the least invasive manner possible,” Schwartzberg adds, “Prostate MRI can help avoid unnecessary biopsies, and when one is needed, it can help make that biopsy more accurate. It’s a win-win for patients and doctors alike.”

Prostate MRI is recommended for individuals who have the following:

  • An elevated prostate-specific antigen and another risk factor for prostate cancer
  • Experienced repeated, negative biopsies
  • Diagnosed with prostate cancer, in particular, small-volume higher Gleason grade disease
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