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Cheaper, quicker prostate cancer scans just as accurate ‘and can help more men’

Cheaper, quicker prostate cancer scans just as accurate ‘and can help more men’

Cutting the duration of MRI scans for prostate cancer by a third would make them cheaper and more accessible without reducing their accuracy. That is the key result of a UK trial which indicates that lowering costs could ensure more men are offered scans.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are about 52,300 new prostate cancer cases every year in the UK, equal to more than 140 a day.

At present, doctors offer patients with suspected prostate cancer a three-stage MRI scan, with the patient injected with a contrast dye at the third stage: this helps to enhance the images from the scan.

As part of a trial entitled Prime and involving 555 patients from 22 hospitals in 12 countries, researchers from University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospitals assessed the impact of dropping the third stage. They found that using the shorter scan allowed specialists to diagnose 29% of prostate cancers – the same proportion as with three-step scans.

Dr Clare Allen, lead radiologist on the trial, said the results, which were presented at the European Association of Urology conference in Paris last week, showed that significant prostate cancers were unlikely to be missed in the absence of a contrast scan. “The scans will be quicker, cheaper and can be offered to more men,” she said, “though it is critical to emphasise that dropping the third part of the MRI scan is dependent on the first two parts of the scan being of high quality.”

The trial found a two-stage MRI could also be almost 50% cheaper: a three-phase MRI costs £273 on average while a two-phase scan is £145. Matthew Hobbs, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, which co-funded the trial with the John Black Charitable Foundation, said the results mean men can now be given quicker scans that do not require an injection and are cheaper. “This will allow more men to benefit from a better, more accurate diagnosis at a lower cost to healthcare systems not only in the UK, but worldwide.”

Source: theguardian.com