Thursday 24 September 2020

New prostate cancer protocol quicker and less painful

Cancer cells. Photo:

A new protocol in investigating potential prostate cancer will make the process cheaper, quicker and less painful, broadcaster NOS reports.

If a blood test has suggested possible prostate cancer, the next step will now be an MRI scan instead of a painful needle biopsy. This biopsy typically involves inserting a needle through the rectal wall into the prostate from which 12 samples used to be taken.

‘Thanks to the scan we can tell exactly where the cancer is and, consequently, we know where to perform a biopsy and will have to remove only three samples. If nothing shows up on the scan, the chances are that nothing is the matter and no biopsy is needed,’ radiology professor and initiator of the new protocol Jelle Barentz told NOS.

The new protocol will be used in all Dutch hospitals from Thursday.

Under the old guideline 60% of men who had the biopsy did not have a tumour. That means 23,000 out of 40,000 men no longer have to undergo a procedure which is both painful and can cause complications, such as bleeds and inflammation.

Some 10,000 men are diagnosed with an aggressive form of the cancer every year, of whom 2,500 die. The new method will only detect the aggressive kind, which is an added bonus, Barentz said, because non-aggressive prostate cancer does not kill and treatment is not necessary.

It is estimated that costs will also go down by €375 per patient, or €15m in total.

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