Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer for American men after skin cancer. Although this is the case, most men do not die from it. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but only 1 in 41 will die from the disease according to the American Cancer Society. Interesting statistics, yes, so what are the advantages of prostate MRI for prostate cancer screening?
A Slow Spreading Cancer
Prostate cancer can sometimes spread quickly, but normally it is very slow growing. Scores of men live with prostate cancer their entire lives with no symptoms and end up dying of some other medical condition.
Two Initial Screening Tools For Prostate Cancer
Most doctors advise having a DRE or digital rectal exam each year to determine if cancer could be present. Your doctor uses a lubricated gloved finger inserted into your rectum to see if he can find any abnormal lumps or hard areas that could be cancerous.
The PSA or prostate specific antigen test is a blood test also used to screen for prostate cancer. PSA is a protein found in the prostate which can be found in both cancerous and non-cancerous tissue.
If the PSA levels are elevated it can indicate cancer, but it can also be due to another non-cancerous condition like benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BPH) or an infection. In addition, PSA levels naturally rise as a man gets older.
Therefore, elevated PSA levels do not mean you definitely have cancer. Many men who have prostate cancer have normal levels of PSA, whereas other men with high levels do not have cancer. It’s also possible that slow growing prostate cancers never have any symptoms and would never cause any harm.
If the PSA is inconclusive, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to determine if there is cancer.
Here a needle is used to collect tissue from your prostate. It is collected 6 – 12 times to get test samples from different areas of the prostate. Unfortunately, a tumor can be missed with this “hit or miss” method. Sometimes an insignificant cancer can be diagnosed that would never have produced any negative problems.
One More Screening Test Is An MRI For Prostate Cancer
Rather than going through a biopsy, a more reliable screening test – an MRI for prostate cancer is now available. It is non-invasive, comfortable, simple, and causes no pain.
Just like any other MRI it can tell your doctor:
- How advanced the cancer is
- Whether it has spread
- Helps to find other prostate issues.
- It may eliminate the need for a biopsy
- Is as accurate as a biopsy (or more)
- Can detect BPH
The greatest advantage of an MRI for prostate cancer is that it can clearly differentiate between clinically insignificant cancers and those which require treatment.