Prostate cancer screening scan hope
Hundreds of UK men are trying out a new screening test for prostate cancer to see if it should eventually be offered routinely on the NHS.
The test is a non-invasive MRI scan that takes images of the inside of the body to check for any abnormal growths.
Scientists running the trial say it will take a few years to know if MRI will be better than available blood tests and biopsies at spotting cancers.
NHS England said it would review this “potentially exciting” development.
Why don’t we already screen for prostate cancer?
The UK currently doesn’t offer routine screening because there is no reliable test.
A blood test, called PSA, can check for high levels of a protein that can sometimes indicate that the person might have prostate cancer, but it is not always accurate.
About three in four men with a raised PSA level will not have cancer and the test can also miss more than one in 10 cancers.
Men with a raised PSA may need more checks, such as a biopsy. This involves taking small samples of tissue from the prostate gland, using a needle, so that they can be examined under the microscope.
In some cases, this can miss a cancer that is there, fail to spot whether it is aggressive, and cause side-effects, including bleeding, serious infections and erectile dysfunction.
What is the new test?
MRI is non-invasive. It might be a way to make prostate cancer testing more reliable and maybe even do away with the need for biopsies altogether, researchers hope.
A recent UK trial in men with high PSA levels showed more than a quarter could be spared invasive biopsies.
The experts from University College London who are running the screening trial hope MRI will detect serious cancers earlier while reassuring the majority of men that they don’t have cancer. Read more