Beyond Biopsies? A Better Way to Test for Prostate Cancer

blind biopsies are painful and inaccurateWhen a man has an elevated PSA level, his doctor is likely to recommend one of two approaches: Do nothing and see what happens (called “watchful waiting”), or have a biopsy. Doing the actual biopsy, however, is often something of a challenge, given that the organ is pretty small and is located in a rather difficult-to-reach spot. As a result, doctors do what they call “blind biopsies,” meaning they snip out several pieces of prostate tissue and hope that at least one of them comes from the tumor so they’ll be able to assess just how serious the cancer is. Unfortunately, this method often picks up only healthy tissue, missing the tumor entirely, and produces a false negative. More biopsies may be ordered, which may or may not identify anything. Oh, and did we mention that biopsies are painful and can take as long as a month to recover from?

There may be hope on the horizon. A new high-tech technique that uses MRI and ultrasound to guide the biopsy needle straight to the tumor is currently being tested by Dr. Leonard Marks, a professor of urology at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues. A small study using this experimental technique found tumors in 53 percent of the 171 men who participated. The results, while preliminary, were reported in the Journal of Urology. All of these men were being monitored for possible prostate cancer or had already been diagnosed with slow-growing tumors.

We at the Men’s Health Network and Talking about Men’s Health are following this new approach with interest and we’ll let you know how the research progresses.

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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