Southmead Hospital patients involved in study that could see less invasive tests for prostate cancer

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Men with suspected prostate cancer could benefit from less invasive testing as a result of a study that involved patients at Southmead Hospital.

The PROMIS (Prostate MRI Imaging Study) found that a quarter of men could safely avoid undergoing a biopsy if they had an MRI scan first.

Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MP-MRI) uses magnetic fields to create a detailed picture of the prostate and surrounding tissues.

The trial, led by the MRC (Medical Research Council) at UCL (University College London), involved 11 hospitals, including North Bristol NHS Trust's Bristol Urological Institute at Southmead Hospital.

Using the scans also helped provide useful information about the size and location of tumours to enable better targeting of a follow-up biopsy, which meant that in the trial the detection of aggressive cancers was doubled.

There are no signs and symptoms in early prostate cancer and currently there is no diagnostic test to diagnose it.

A Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test identifies men who might have cancer, but further tests, such as a biopsy are required for a diagnosis to be made.

The trial assessed the accuracy of MP-MRI scanning in diagnosing significant prostate cancer and how this compared to TRUS (transrectal ultrasound) biopsy.

The results have indicated that MP-MRI can be used to decide who should then go on to have biopsy, giving a more accurate picture of who needs treating and reducing the need for men to have a biopsy, which can be unpleasant and can be associated with side-effects .

In total 44 men were involved in the study at Southmead Hospital.

In response to the findings there has already been a change of practice at the Bristol Urological Institute, which looks set to become national standard practice, when men are referred to the hospital and where appropriate they now undergo triaging with MRI prior to biopsy.

North Bristol NHS Trust Consultant Urologist Professor Raj Persad who was involved in prostate cancer study with patients at Southmead Hospital North Bristol NHS Trust Consultant Urologist Professor Raj Persad, who was leading the study at Southmead Hospital, said: "This is a major advance that is going hand in hand with all the other technologies we are developing and embracing at the Bristol Urological Institute, which is one of the leading centres in the country.

"These findings mean that a group of patients will only have one simple, painless scan and we will be able to better target biopsies in those that still require the procedure to diagnose prostate cancer.

"Here at the Bristol Urological Institute we aim to continue to do all we can to improve the experience of patients with suspected prostate cancer and those diagnosed with cancer and are proud to have been part of another landmark study that will make a significant difference to patients.

"We are really grateful to all the men who took part in this practice-changing study."