Diagnosis

From Brexit to TRexit: Transperineal biopsies pose a challenge to the traditional transrectal biopsy method

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

By now most of us are familiar with Brexit, the UK’s pending divorce with the European Union. But in a play on that term, British doctors are also moving towards an exit they’ve dubbed “TRexit” from the most common sort of prostate biopsy: the transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy, or TRUS. Men who test positive on […]

Can a man with abnormal PSA and a negative diagnostic MRI avoid a prostate biopsy? It’s debatable

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Not long ago, an abnormal PSA reading would be followed right away by a standard biopsy to search for potential cancer in the prostate. During such a procedure, doctors take 10 to 12 samples of the prostate from various locations while looking at the gland with an ultrasound machine. These days, however, men with high […]

New blood test guides researchers toward the best treatment for aggressive prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Tumors that spread, or metastasize, in the body shed cells into blood that doctors can scrutinize for insights into what a patient’s cancer might do. Analyzing these so-called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) isn’t part of routine care yet, in part because they’re so hard to pick out of the millions of normal cells in a […]

New study once again casts doubt on PSA screening

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

To screen or not to screen for prostate cancer? This remains an important question. Screening relies on a highly imperfect measure, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which is prone to false-positive results. And with mounting evidence that survival benefits from screening pale in comparison with the harms from overtreatment — particularly incontinence and impotence […]

New urine test predicts high-grade cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Suspicious findings from prostate cancer screening are often followed by a procedure most men would prefer to avoid: a prostate biopsy. But what if biopsies actually could be avoided on the basis of non-invasive test results? Screening tests are moving in that direction, with some intriguing results. One of them, the Prostate Health Index blood test, combines measures of three forms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) into a score that helps doctors predict if a cancer is likely to progress, with an aim to circumvent biopsies that aren’t necessary.

Targeted prostate biopsies better at detecting dangerous cancers

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Standard biopsies of the prostate gland often miss potentially aggressive prostate cancer. Adding MRI images to standard biopsies improves the detection of prostate cancer.

How to monitor prostate cancer using active surveillance

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Trained dogs can sniff out prostate cancer

With their ability to smell tiny amounts of chemicals, trained dogs can easily find explosives or illegal drugs hidden in a suitcase. But mounting evidence points to another helpful job for man’s best friend: finding prostate cancer before it causes any symptoms.

Genetic testing to guide prostate removal: too soon to know if it helps

Is it possible for a gene test to identify whether a prostate that’s healthy today is sure to develop cancer down the road? And should results of such a test be the basis for removing a seemingly healthy prostate gland? Those are questions raised by recent press reports of a British man who had his prostate gland removed because he carried a faulty gene called BRCA2.

Rethinking when to biopsy

A prostate cancer diagnosis may send a man to the operating room or drive him to get radiation therapy—even when the cancer is unlikely to spread or cause harm. That’s causing some to wonder when a biopsy should really be done.