A BETTER PROSTATE CANCER TEST?
Distinguishing aggressive disease from slow-growing tumors means more patients can forgo treatment. Several new prostate-cancer tests aim to reduce needless biopsies and unnecessary treatments by sorting out harmless from aggressive tumors. 30 MILLION U.S. men will have a PSA test. 6 MILLION of them will be found to have elevated PSA levels. 1 MILLION of them will undergo a prostate biopsy. 180,000 men who have biopsies will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Another 180,000 men will have prostate cancer the biopsy missed. 100,000 men with prostate cancer will have low-risk tumors that are unlikely to spread or cause symptoms. 60,000 men with low-risk cancers will undergo surgery or radiation anyway, probably unnecessarily.
mpMRI vs BIOPSY Mark Scholz, a prostate oncology specialist in Marina del Rey, Calif., maintains that an mpMRI can yield much of the same information as a biopsy and far less invasively. Low-risk prostate cancers barely register, he says, adding, “When patients find out they have a choice between 12 harpoon sticks to the prostate through the rectum or an MRI, they are on board big time.”
Joel Copeland, 62 years old, has been monitoring his PSA closely for a decade; his two brothers were diagnosed with prostate cancer. He opted for an MRI instead of a biopsy when his PSA bounced up in 2013. “I don’t like needles, but that’s not the point,” Mr. Copeland says. “The point is, biopsies can cause infection and miss cancers.”