With the help of a new ultrasound technique, the number of unnecessary prostate biopsies may be greatly reduced, according to Jefferson University Hospital researchers. Lower numbers of men with undetected prostate cancer should occur as well.
The technique, which consolidates regions of blood flow in the prostate for observation by ultrasound, allows doctors to better gauge the risk for prostate cancer in their patient without performing a biopsy. It’s called flash replenishment imaging. According to the JUH medical press release, “researchers found that biopsies targeted to areas of increased blood flow in the prostate were twice as likely to be positive for cancer compared with conventional prostate biopsy techniques.”
The ability to observe increased blood flow regions in the prostate could solve a long-standing problem for doctors: “finding the best areas to perform biopsies in the prostate has always been difficult. Standard methods entail simply dividing the prostate into a dozen regions within the gland, almost randomly,” according to Dr. Edouard Trabulsi, the JUH Prostate Center co-director. The study says that “standard procedures fail to diagnose prostate cancer in approximately 30 percent of men with the disease.”
Altogether, the study involved 979 biopsies, some using the new ultrasound technique, with the others using conventional methods. Dr. Trabulsi explains that “we found that targeted biopsies based on the contrast-enhanced ultrasound are much more likely to detect prostate cancer.”
While this new ultrasound technique is not at the stage of general implementation, the results are so far promising. Once researchers are able to better target very specific regions of the prostate, this more efficient and cost-effective technique for diagnosing prostate cancer should go mainstream.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Trabulsi, Edouard. JUH press release. May 2008.