Prostate cancer

MRI scans bolster prostate cancer diagnosis, new research finds

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can improve prostate cancer diagnosis, according to new research published in the journal BMJ Oncology.

Researchers used MRI scans in conjunction with prostate specific antigen (PSA) density to evaluate the need for further tests – PSA is a blood test that can be indicative of cancer if 3ng/ml or above.

The research found that, of the 48 participants who were found to have cancer, half had what would be deemed too low a PSA score to qualify for further NHS investigations.

Of the 303 men who underwent both a screening MRI scan and a PSA test:

  • 48 (16%) had an MRI that signalled cancer
  • Two thirds had a PSA score lower that the current threshold to warrant further tests
  • 29 men (9.6%) were diagnosed with cancer that required treatment
  • 3 men (1%) were diagnosed with cancer that did not need treatment

Industry comment

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Professor Caroline Moore, from University College London (UCL) and the study’s chief investigator, 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. More studies in larger groups are needed to assess this further.”

Black men were five times less likely to respond to the screening invitation than white men – an issue that researchers will seek to address in future works.

The study was supported by UCL, UCL Hospitals and King’s College London; it was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Image credit: iStock

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