The best reasons why MRI fusion biopsy improves diagnosing prostate cancer

Men deserve the most accurate and up-to-date technologies for diagnosing prostate cancer. That’s why finding a balance between the traditional methods of ultrasound-guided biopsy with a higher degree of accuracy in detecting prostate cancer has always been the gold standard in providing men with the best diagnosis. 

Unfortunately, here’s a fairly common scenario: A man has his PSA levels checked, which come back elevated.  He’s advised to have a traditional ultrasound-guided biopsy which takes twelve prostate samples to find cancer, regardless of where it may be in this organ. But the results come back negative for prostate cancer.  The man is relieved and goes on with his life. However, a few months or years later, he noticed problems with urinating or feeling sharp pains in his side.  A visit to his doctor reveals an enlarged prostate, and he is prescribed medication.  But he is still frustrated with his symptoms down the road, so he sees a different doctor who administers an MRI fusion biopsy.  The biopsy finding shows he does have prostate cancer, which is now at an advanced stage.  Because of the precise, targeted MRI fusion biopsy which found the tumor in an unusual location, he is treated. As a result, he survives cancer which he may have not since the standard biopsy had missed it earlier.

A key factor in surviving prostate cancer is early detection.  Not only does early detection increase the potential for a cure, but it is also crucial for preserving the quality of a man’s life.  That’s why a more accurate means of finding and diagnosing prostate cancer is utilizing a technique called MRI fusion biopsy.  

Considering that for 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates that close to 288,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and around 34,700 men will die from this disease, it makes it imperative men accurate detection is a must. Prostate cancer is and should be a concern as it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer after skin cancer in men and is the leading cause of cancer death in American men other than lung cancer. 

To fully understand why MRI fusion biopsy is superior for diagnosing prostate cancer, here’s a look at three reasons why:


  • MRI fusion biopsy uses information from both MRI imaging and ultrasound imaging.  


There have always been drawbacks to the standard prostate biopsy using ultrasound imaging alone, making it more inaccurate. An ultrasound-guided biopsy uses a series of needles poked into different areas of the prostate gland. Still, the picture quality is not distinct enough to distinguish cancerous tissue from normal prostate tissue. Usually, a total of 6 to 12 tissue samples of the prostate are removed to be examined.  While this effectively detects larger tumors, these random biopsies can miss smaller cancerous areas while turning up inconsequential that are treated unnecessarily.

But, with MRI fusion biopsy, a multiparametric MRI image is taken of the prostate gland and then fused with a live ultrasound image, allowing doctors to identify suspicious areas where their needle biopsy should take a sample. This real-time, 3D image provides such clarity and precision that doctors can eliminate the need to take multiple random biopsies, which traditional prostate biopsies rely on.  In addition, MRI fusion biopsies have huge advantages over standard prostate biopsies. They cover the entire prostate, whereas traditional methods only cover less than 10%.  Therefore, previously unseen tumors can now be spotted, and any tumors in inaccessible tissue are easily detected.  


  • MRI fusion biopsy can accurately find the location of where cancer, is 


MRI fusion biopsies identify the location and can accurately diagnose the grade and size of cancer crucial for determining the best treatment method for the patient. In addition, MRI fusion biopsy helps doctors find aggressive tumors that may have been missed. Having this precision accuracy available makes it much easier for the physician to recommend whether a patient is a candidate for active surveillance, surgery, or radiation without over-treating him. Knowing this information should bring peace of mind to any man worried about the accuracy of a prostate cancer diagnosis and what treatment is recommended. 

A recent 2021 study in JAMA Oncology wanted to know if using an MRI of the prostate in men with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level high enough to raise the possibility of prostate cancer could help identify low-grade versus higher-grade cancers without automatically doing a biopsy. The study’s findings showed that using MRI alone may save men with a high PSA from a biopsy and help identify more aggressive types of prostate cancer needing immediate attention. 


  • MRI fusion biopsy is more likely to prevent the incidence of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence


A major concern for many men undergoing a biopsy for detecting prostate cancer is the possibility of increasing the likelihood of erectile dysfunction. But, there’s good news: MRI fusion biopsy can map out the location and extent of the tumor, information critical for identifying which men are good candidates for nerve-sparing procedures to preserve the nerves that control erections reducing the incidence of erectile dysfunction.  It also can help determine what type of continence-preserving techniques is best for optimizing a man’s urinary control and reducing urinary incontinence.

MRI fusion biopsy offers new hope

MRI fusion biopsy technology is a welcome addition to the arsenal of cancer-fighting tools for detecting and diagnosing prostate cancer.  In addition, most health insurance plans cover it making it an attractive method for reducing other unwarranted medical procedures. 

Even though this technology is still relatively new, more and more data shows the procedure’s efficacy, bringing new hope for men and their loved ones while providing healthcare providers with the latest technology for identifying and targeting suspicious prostate tumors.  


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

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