Choosing MRI Instead of Random Needle Biopsy

Dr. Mark Scholz believes that the U.S. has an issue of over-treatment for prostate cancer. Part of that, he says, is the use of random needle biopsy. Learn about the issues with PSA and random needle biopsy in this video, as well as alternative screening measures for prostate cancer.


Todd Hartley: Can we talk about PSA screenings for a moment? It seems like it has a long way to go. Do you agree with that?

Dr. Mark Scholz: Oh yes. It’s the same concern is that the PSA blood test can fight prostate cancer at an early stage that’s good. And so, there are good things about PSA screening, but if you find the cancer in such an early stage that it would never hurt anyone and if that patient ends up getting treated when he was never going to suffer and has no lifetime from the disease that is bad. So, we have a situation where PSAs are powerful tool, but like any powerful tool it needs to be managed wisely and with restraint. Sometimes, people get a diagnosis of the cancer and all commonsense goes out the window and fear takes over and they end up getting these treatments, the surgery, and radiation that can cause permanent damage to their quality of life.

Todd Hartley: Is there another screening option that you would recommend besides the PSA or may be the PSA in compliment with another screening option?

Dr. Mark Scholz: Well, thank you very much for asking that because honestly the PSA is not the problem, the problem is another type of a procedure called a random prostate needle biopsy. The PSA does not tell you have cancer, but when someone lays you on the table and starts poking needle in your prostate and yes that means through your rectum of all things, that’s when you are told you have cancer. Well, when you start randomly jabbing at something, you never know what you are going to find so what is the alternative. The alternative are some new imaging techniques with a high-powered MRI and the beauty of the high-powered MRI is that it will see the bad cancers that you want to know about and thankfully, it will miss the low grade ones that are going to never hurt you. This is the problem. The needle biopsies that finds all these low grade cancers, harmless cancers, but it scares people in too much treatment, the MRI treatments which are much more accurate and less dangerous honestly. Men are getting bad infections from these biopsies. I mean I needed to tell you that it sounds unpleasant to go through it. So, this is a great new technology and I am so glad to be able to tell everyone about it because you know the status quo is right now the doctors are doing the biopsies are doing good business at it honestly. About a million men in United States get a prostate biopsy every year. A million men. If you say they are clearing up a $1000 a biopsy on these patients, then you are talking about a billion dollar business. Now is that going to go away overnight just because someone develops an MRI? Well, there are certainly financial setups even for doctors. So, I think it is a great opportunity for us to get this message out to the public that if a biopsy is being recommended, ask your doctor about getting an MRI first as an alternative to the biopsy.

Mark C. Scholz, MD is a board-certified medical oncologist and serves as medical director of Prostate Oncology Specialists Inc. in Marina del Rey, CA, a medical practice exclusively focused on prostate cancer. He is also the executive director of the Prostate Cancer Research Institute. He received his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, NE, Dr. Scholz completed his Internal Medicine internship and Medical Oncology fellowship at University of Southern California Medical Center.

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This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.


This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

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