A new non-invasive MRI scan for prostate cancer could “revolutionise” diagnosis of the disease, scientists have claimed. Men in the UK aren’t screened for prostate cancer because the existing blood test – which looks for raised levels of the protein PSA – is unreliable. Most men with raised PSA levels don’t have cancer, but must have an invasive biopsy to establish this; the test misses around 10% of tumours; and it cannot distinguish slow-growing ones that don’t need treatment from the most aggressive kinds. The developers of the new ten-minute scan, which is being tested on 350 men this summer, claim it produces fewer “false positives” and can detect if the cancer is one that requires immediate treatment. Prof Mark Emberton, Dean of the UCL faculty of Medical Science, and one of the scientists trialling the test, said he hoped that the NHS would eventually adopt it as a routine screening tool. (The Week, 22 June 2019)
This is very personal to me. As far as I can establish every male among my ancestors for over two or three centuries appear to have died of prostate cancer, including (definitely) my father and grandfather. It is a genetic inheritance, and I am the first to survive it, thanks to a good surgeon and modern medicine. It is, in my family’s case, diagnosed within the first six months of the 60th year – reliable as a clock. But the biopsies are literally hit or miss, and I was told that the cancer is usuallh more aggressive in reality than the biopsies indicate. This news gives me Epicurean peace of mind. I have two sons, and it is reassuring to know about this advance in detection. Who knows, by the time they are 60 prostate cancer could be detected harmlessly with an MRI and zapped with an injection?