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Why a Prostate MRI is the Best Way to Screen for Cancer

The prostate is a round gland in the male pelvis, about the size of a ping-pong ball, responsible for the development of seminal fluid. About one in nine men are affected by prostate cancer.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome.

In fact, prostate cancers that are localized (only in the prostate) or regional (spread only to nearby structures or lymph nodes) have a five-year survival rate of nearly 100 percent.

Prostate Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS) currently recommends that men consider prostate cancer screening at:

  • Age 50 if they have an average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years
  • Age 45 for high-risk men, including African-Americans and/or those who had a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65
  • Age 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age

One screening method for prostate cancer involves measuring the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.

PSA is a protein produced in the prostate, and is usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. 

PSA levels are often elevated for men with prostate cancer. Doctors may recommend that a patient with PSA levels above 4.0 ng/mL undergo a prostate biopsy. 

However, PSA tests are not always accurate. Recent research shows that prostate cancer may be present even with PSA levels below 4.0 ng/mL, and many men with higher levels do not have prostate cancer. High PSA levels may mean inflammation or a urinary tract infection instead of prostate cancer.

Fortunately, there are other prostate cancer screening options that reduce the risk of a false positive and unnecessary biopsies.

MRI to Screen for Prostate Cancer

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another method that can be used to screen for prostate cancer. Unlike a biopsy, this method is painless and non-invasive.

Research published in the Lancet has shown that MRI prostate screening may help some men avoid unnecessary prostate biopsy. Prostate MRI may also be used to look for prostate cancer in men who had an inconclusive biopsy.

In the Lancet study, 576 men underwent MRI followed by biopsies.

Among those men with clinically significant cancer, results showed that the MRI was more sensitive than a transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy. 

The researchers concluded that the use of MRI to triage men could have helped 27 percent of patients avoid a primary biopsy.

For those men who still undergo a biopsy, directing those biopsies with MP-MRI findings could help detect up to 18 percent more cases of clinically significant cancer.

MRI technology can detect over 90 percent of prostate cancers, as well as other conditions, such as infections or benign prostatic hyperplasia.

In addition, an MRI procedure can take as little as 20 minutes, compared to prostate biopsy that can take between 1-2 hours.

An MRI scan of the prostate also can help providers determine the stage of a tumor, as well as monitor how well the treatment is going.

The ezra approach to prostate cancer screening uses the power and sensitivity of MRI scanning to help you get the information you need, sooner.

Here are some resources to help you learn more about our full-body MRI which scans up to 13 organs including the prostate:

Ready to get screened? Book your ezra scan here.