A major advance in prostate cancer research could help early detection. There aren't tests for prostate cancer that are as good as mammograms for breast cancer, but a new targeted biopsy is a major step forward.
One prostate needle biopsy is unpleasant enough, but Don Buck had two of them. He got them because his PSA levels had shot up dramatically - from 2 to 13. "It's more like a pinch but it is in a sensitive area," said Don. In conventional biopsies, doctors insert a needle into the prostate and take up to 24 random tissue samples, then send those to the lab to see if there is cancer. But nothing turned up for Don. "I thought well perhaps there's something wrong with the PSA test."
Don's wife convinced him to get a new type of biopsy; one that is far more precise and may be more accurate. "Rather than doing a systematic blind biopsy of the prostate, we can now do targeted biopsy and do a direct assessment of the tumor. Previously this was impossible," said Dr. Leonard Marks. First, patients get an MRI that pinpoints the subtle differences between normal and cancerous tissue. Then, those MRI images are superimposed over the live images of the prostate done during the biopsy so the doctor can be sure he's taken a biopsy of the right area. "So what this allows us to do is to put the needle directly into the tumor. And to evaluate the size of the tumor and the severity of the tumor," said Dr. Marks. The targeted biopsy found invasive cancer in Don's prostate. The good news: it was caught early. If he had just let it go it could have spread. "I believe I'm going to have a long life," said Don.
Now, experts say not to relay solely on the PSA test. They recommend men also get an exam done by a doctor. A biopsy may be necessary. If you need one, ask about the new option.
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