Health Beat: MRI for better prostate biopsy

Health Beat: MRI for better prostate biopsy

ST. LOUIS - When Bob Washington can't make it to the nearby golf course, his backyard will do. Washington enjoys the little things even more now after beating prostate cancer, a disease that runs in his family.

"Five boys. All of us were diagnosed with prostate cancer," Washington said.

Washington's PSA levels started to climb several years ago, and a biopsy indicated cancer. Experts acknowledge the PSA is not foolproof, nor is a standard prostate biopsy using ultrasound.

"It's a little random whether or not they're actually going to hit upon cancer," explained Dr. Kathryn Fowler, a radiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Dr. Gerald Andriole, chief of urologic surgery at the Washington University, is studying the use of biopsies using patients' MRI scans to visualize and target suspicious areas.

"We would get much more valid information about the size, the shape, the aggressiveness and the location of the cancer," Andriole said.

Research shows the MRI-targeted biopsy is two-and-a-half times more likely to detect cancer than a traditional biopsy.

"For certain parts of the prostate, the odds of the ratio go up to over eight fold," Andriole explained.

Washington and his wife have adult twin boys, both of whom were recently married. Washington is vocal with both about regular cancer screenings.

"They've all had their PSA taken. They have a baseline number and I stay on them every year to make sure they continue to go with this," Washington said.

As MRI technology improves, Andriole said prostate cancer screening may eventually be like mammography screenings for breast cancer. Men with elevated PSA will get an MRI with a follow up biopsy only if the MRI shows an abnormality.

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