Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 05:46 pm

One in four men could avoid unnecessary biopsy

The study, published in The Lancet on 19 January 2017, estimates that undergoing the extra test could help one in four men avoid an unnecessary biopsy and reduce the number of men who are over-diagnosed – diagnosed with a cancer that does not go on to cause any harm during their lifetime – by 5%.

Current PSA test not always accurate

Typically, men undergo a biopsy of their prostate if they experience symptoms of prostate cancer or have a high prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. However, the PSA test is not always accurate, which means that many men undergo an unnecessary biopsy.

Lead author of the study, Dr Hashim Ahmed, UCL, UK says, “Prostate cancer has aggressive and harmless forms. Our current biopsy test cannot confirm whether a cancer is aggressive or not and can miss aggressive cancers that are actually there.

Wrong diagnosis and side effects

“Because of this, some men with no cancer or harmless cancers are sometimes given the wrong diagnosis. On top of these errors in diagnosis, the current biopsy test can cause side effects such as bleeding, pain and serious infections,” continued Dr Ahmed.

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Multi-parametric MRI (MP-MRI) scans provide information about the cancer’s size, how densely packed its cells are and how well connected to the bloodstream it is, so could help differentiate between aggressive and harmless cancers.

MRI before biopsy

“Our results show that MP-MRI should be used before biopsy. … While combining the two tests gives better results than biopsy alone, this is still not 100% accurate, so it would be important that men would still be monitored after their MP-MRI scan. Biopsies will still be needed if an MP-MRI scan shows suspected cancer too, but the scan could help to guide the biopsy so that fewer and better biopsies are taken,” concludes Dr Ahmed.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.