In a world first, the National Health Service in Britain plans to cut prostate cancer diagnosis times from six weeks to a matter of days. Currently a test for men with prostate cancer requires an MRI scan and a biopsy where a dozen samples are taken, requiring multiple hospital visits. But a new “one-stop” service will be trialled in three west London hospitals which will complete all the necessary tests in one day. The new MRI scan, known as an mpMRI, provides higher quality imagery and provides up to 40% of patients with a same day diagnosis. For people who need a biopsy, ultrasound images with 3D MRI scans are used to target areas for taking tissue samples. The NHS claims the technique virtually eliminates the threat of sepsis.
About5,000 men will be tested over the next two years in three London hospitals, allowing many men to avoid invasive biopsies as well as allowing precision biopsy in those men requiring it. High risk tumours are expected to be found much earlier, and cost-effectively.
As is fairly typical, not everyone thinks the new system is wonderful. Consultant radiologist Dr Anthony Chambers is concerned that men will be pushed through the process far too quickly when all they have a common infection called prostatitis, not cancer. He also fears that the system will divert resources from more urgent conditions. (BBC News, March 3rd)
Why am I raising this medical issue? For a personsl reason – generations of my family on the male side have had prostate cancer, myself included. Most of them died of it. I have two sons. I hope those who follow Epicurus will understand the point. In addition, the poor old NHS gets a bad rap on a daily basis (and is maligned in the US). Nice to report good news!