Are there any alternatives to prostate biopsy?
Doctors have long relied upon biopsies to determine a cancer diagnosis. These procedures can be dangerous and have been fatal. Dr. Mark Scholz says new imaging studies, MRI and ultrasound, can eliminate the need for biopsies. These procedures have proven to be very accurate and are completely safe.
Biopsies sometimes find traces of low-grade cancer that don’t need to be treated. These new alternatives to prostate biopsy help doctors find the cancers that need to removed or destroyed. Dr. Scholz advises doing research to determine who can do these procedures properly. As with any new technology, some people are not properly performing these procedures.
Mark Scholz, MD: There are two new imaging studies, color Doppler ultrasound and multiparametric MRI that you need to know about as an alternative through a prostate biopsy.
The biopsy as I have discussed can be dangerous. It does however answer the question of whether or not cancer is present. This is a very important question that certainly needs an answer. So, the question arises is there an alternative and until recently there wasn’t, biopsy was the default standard way to find prostate cancer. But over the last 12 to 24 months, new studies are now showing that MRI and high resolution ultrasound can find prostate cancers, the kind you want to know about, the more aggressive types with very high accuracy. We are talking somewhere in the 95 to 98% range and these imaging studies, multiparametric MRI and color Doppler ultrasound can be done without the need for biopsies. So, there is no inherent danger.
So we have a situation now where a million men are getting biopsied every year with the very justifiable goal to find cancer, but as a result men are getting sick, men even are having mortality from this procedure and now with new technology available in the form of high resolution imaging, we can no longer justify all these biopsies that are taking place. And the other very serious side effect of biopsies is finding small specs of low grade cancer and the nice thing about these new imaging studies is that they tend to be blind to these innocuous cancers, the ones that are going to hurt anybody and the ones that we don’t need to know about.
So, its very important that the people realize there is a need for quality and when you shop around for imaging, the fact that you don’t see something could possibly be because the center does not know how to look properly, so there is, like any new thing, there are people who are doing this right and there are people who are not doing this right and so it is very important to do your homework and find out who can do the proper type of prostate imaging, but it is here now and its going to continue to grow in popularity because it is much more safe and its just as accurate as a biopsy, possibly slightly more accurate than a biopsy.