PARIS – A quarter of men suspected of having prostate cancer could avoid invasive and potentially dangerous biopsies with the help of MRI scans, researchers reported Friday. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could also reduce the number of men over-diagnosed with the disease by 5 percent, they detailed in a study published in The Lancet. The new approach is potentially a game-changer, experts commenting on the study said. In the case of prostate cancer, "over-diagnosed" includes relatively benign cancers that do not cause any harm during a man's lifetime. "Prostate cancer has aggressive and harmless forms," noted lead author Hashim Ahmed, a surgeon at University College London's faculty of medicine.
The biggest leap in diagnosing prostate cancer "in decades" has been made using new scanning equipment, say doctors and campaigners. Using advanced MRI nearly doubles the number of aggressive tumours that are caught. And the trial on 576 men, published in the Lancet, showed more than a quarter could be spared invasive biopsies, which can lead to severe side-effects. The NHS is already reviewing whether the scans can be introduced widely. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, and yet testing for it is far from perfect.
Basics: What is a Gleason Score? One important component of staging your cancer is the grade of the cancer. While the stage of your cancer looks at where the cancer is present in your body -- how it is behaving at the macro level -- the grade describes what the actual cancer cells look like under a microscope -- how they are behaving on a micro level. Traditionally, prostate cancer grades were described according to the Gleason Score, a system named for the pathologist who developed it in the 1960s. Dr. Donald Gleason realized that cancerous cells fall into 5 distinct patterns as they change from normal cells to tumor cells.
Ben Stiller's life was saved because he had a screening test for prostate cancer. Now he's urging others to follow his lead. The US actor is recommending a test that detects blood levels of prostate-specific-antigen, or PSA, a substance produced by the prostate gland; higher levels may suggest a tumour. After a worrying result, Stiller was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, at just 48. After a biopsy and surgery, he is now cancer free.