The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2019, there will be over 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States alone; approximately 174,650 of those will be prostate cancer. There are several risk factors you should be aware of, as well as various tests you can take to stay vigilant if you’re at risk. It’s generally recommended that men 50 and older who are at moderate-risk talk to their doctors about getting regularly screened for the disease. According to the ACS, early prostate cancers are generally asymptomatic, while diseases in the later-stage are usually found by the symptoms they cause. Traditionally, prostate cancer is discovered through a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam (DRE).
PSA blood tests are generally used to screen people for prostate cancer who don’t present symptoms; it’s also used in men who have symptoms that could be caused by the disease. Most men without prostate cancer have a PSA level of less than 4 ng/mL of blood. Anything higher than that could be a red flag. However, a PSA level below 4 doesn’t necessarily guarantee someone is prostate cancer-free, either: about 15% of men with a PSA of less than 4 will present with prostate cancer via biopsy. Men with a PSA between 4 and 10 have about a 25% chance of having prostate cancer. Once an individual’s PSA level is above 10, his chance of having the disease is above 50%. DREs involve doctors inserting gloved, lubricated fingers into the rectum to feel for any possibly cancerous bumps or hard areas on the prostate. DREs can potentially tell the localization of cancer if present.
If your doctor is worried you may have prostate cancer, it’s likely he or she will recommend a prostate biopsy; this procedure is invasive, causes bleeding, and puts you at risk for infection, in addition to various other side effects. Doctors have different cutoff points for what PSA level they deem appropriate to biopsy.
That’s where Ezra comes in. Our goal is to help prevent unnecessary prostate biopsies. A 2012 review showed that blood PSA tests are only about 21% accurate. Our approach is different: we use the latest MRI technology to screen for potentially cancerous abnormalities in the prostate before moving forward with any invasive procedures. MRI technology can detect over 90% of prostate cancers; therefore, the likelihood that you would undergo needless secondary procedures is substantially lower than if you were getting screened via the conventional PSA blood test route. Furthermore, prostate biopsies take between 1-2 hours, and results can take a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, our MRI procedure takes only 20 minutes and you receive results within 2-3 days.
Typically, it is only recommended to proceed with a biopsy if the radiologist detects an abnormality within the MRI results. If that is the case, you’ll receive a fusion biopsy, which is a highly specific procedure that involves a radiologist looking at your MRI while moving a probe in your anus, taking localized samples from specific spots of concern. The MRI ultimately serves in many ways as a blueprint of your prostate. Thus, the procedure is more comfortable, quicker, and less samples are obtained, so it’s lower-risk.
If you’d like to sign up for Ezra, you can do so on our homepage. Shortly after, a member of our team will call to schedule your MRI as well as a 15 minute pre-scan call with our Ezra physician. Once your MRI is complete, our physician will contact you when the results are ready, which is typically within 1-3 days.