Combining two types of biopsies helps diagnose prostate cancer

In the journals

Published: July, 2020

Combining two kinds of biopsies may lead to a more accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer, suggests a study in the March 5, 2020, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute enrolled 2,103 men with prostate abnormalities. Each man had a standard 12-point biopsy and an MRI-targeted biopsy.

With a 12-point biopsy, tissue samples are taken from 12 systematically placed spots on the prostate. An MRI-targeted biopsy uses an MRI image of the prostate to help doctors locate areas where cancer is most highly suspected. Previous research has shown that MRI-targeted biopsies are more accurate than 12-point biopsies. However, even MRIs can miss some tumors.

The researchers then compared the data from each approach alone and both tests together. They found that using both methods detected 10% more cancers than either one. The two-step approach also missed only 3.5% of the most aggressive tumors, compared with 17% for the 12-point biopsy and 9% for the MRI-targeted biopsy. Men planning to undergo only the traditional 12-point biopsy may want to discuss with their doctor the possibility of adding an MRI-targeted biopsy, the researchers suggest.

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