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Blind biopsy no longer necessary in prostate cancer diagnosis

Category: Male Specific Tests

Scientists at the Clark Urology Center at the University of California (UCLA) have invented a new method for diagnosing prostate cancer that does not require a "blind biopsy," a procedure that has been in use since the 1980s, and does not always yield accurate results, reported Medical News Today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 214,633 people were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2008, while 28,471 died from the condition that year.

The new method of cancer detection took nearly four years to develop and utilizes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in conjunction with ultrasound. The study, which was published in The Journal of Urology, involved 171 men who either had prostate cancer with a slow progression rate or had high levels of a prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is a protein linked to cancer that can be detected with a lab test.

"Early prostate cancer is difficult to image because of the limited contrast between normal and malignant tissues within the prostate," said Leonard S. Marks, M.D., as quoted by the news source. "Conventional biopsies are basically performed blindly, because we can't see what we're aiming for. Now, with this new method that fuses MRI and ultrasound, we have the potential to see the prostate cancer and aim for it in a much more refined and rational manner."

Increased efficiency
It has been a costly and an inefficient process to develop a method in which the biopsy can be conducted in the MRI machine. The newly developed method, according to Medical News Today, takes place in a clinical setting. It first uses the MRI to get a clear picture of the possible tumors and lesions, which is then put into a device named Artemis. Artemis combines the MRI images with the real-time ultrasound images and gives physicians a clear picture of the potential cancer.

Successful results
According to the news source, cancer was detected in 53 percent of the subjects, 38 percent of whom had high Gleason scores, or severe forms of the cancer. One of the subjects, Robert Meier, had blood tests conducted in 2008 after he tore his rotator cuff, which showed high PSA levels. His biopsies kept coming back negative despite the rising PSA numbers. Eventually, Meier was brought to the UCLA clinic and underwent the new method of testing. With the help of the Artemis machine, the doctors were able to get a clear reading. Meir was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. His prostate and 24 of his lymph nodes were removed.


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