Depending on your age as an adult male and depending on your family history, you can expect your doctor to test you for prostate cancer during an annual physical or other appointment, possibly with new MRI technology. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death for adult males, so it is important to know where you stand.
Historically, your doctor has two options for detecting prostate cancer:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which may also be performed in addition to a digital rectal exam
A positive reading for either test suggests that there may be a cancer, resulting in further analysis via an invasive biopsy. But many will not have an aggressive tumor – or cancer at all – and run the risk of developing sepsis or urinary problems through the unnecessary exploratory surgery of a biopsy. Biopsies are also notoriously poor at detecting aggressive cancer, missing half of deadly cases and over-diagnosing in 25 per cent of cases.
New MRI Technology
After years of study and evolution, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is now available as an effective alternative to a biopsy in a non-evasive test for cancer of the prostate. Studies show that a prostate MRI picks up 93 percent of aggressive cancers, compared with 48 percent for a biopsy, which removes a sample of tissue for lab testing, often misses the tumor altogether.
MRI scans were shown to be better at ruling out cancer, as well as identifying tumors that are not dangerous because they are slow growing and do not need to be treated. A prostate MRI provides a more reliable road map for further treatment of identified cancer cells. A more accurate diagnosis leads to a more effective treatment plan.
So, when it is time for your next physical, make sure you discuss alternative options including the MRI for potential prostate cancer. Give us a call at Urology Experts to set up an appointment, (239) 226-2727.