Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been around for quite some time, and is no stranger to cancer detection. Unfortunately, the device itself cannot get a good read on whether prostate cancer is likely to turn aggressive, or remain localized. When it does not threaten to grow beyond the gland, there is no reason to treat it. But aggressive prostate cancer can be life-threatening. Besides the expense and invasive nature of treatment, there is the risk of side effects including urinary and bowel incontinence, as well as erectile dysfunction. To achieve better imaging, researchers at University of California-San Diego School of Medicine proposed a novel approach. They posit using restriction spectrum imaging (RSI) alongside the MRI. RSI can detect certain biomarkers relevant to aggressive cancer, that is absent in the low-risk variety. In this way, researchers say the new technique can help guide diagnosis and even biopsy.
Including RSI to an MRI pelvic exam added a few extra minutes to the procedure, five at most. It was fast and found to be highly accurate. It also decreased compare and contrast MRI risk since it did not require the patient to be injected with dye. This new technique focused on water diffusion within tumor cells. This gave researchers the ability to accurately locate a tumor, plot whether it had increased over time, and identify what grade of tumor it was. The higher the grade the more advanced and worrisome the tumor. Not only is it a noninvasive technique, but it was shown to help diagnose prostate cancer early. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better off the prognosis is. The average age of diagnosis is 66. Approximately 180,000 new diagnoses will occur this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Of these, 26,000 men will succumb to the disease, having been diagnosed too late. That’s why it is so important for men starting at age 50 to inquire with their doctor or an urologist about prostate cancer and when screening might begin.