An advanced type of MRI could be used instead of invasive biopsy to determine whether cancer patients under active surveillance require treatment, according to a study published in The British Journal of Radiology.
Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital used diffusion-weighted MRI to scan 50 patients who were at their initial prostate cancer diagnosis.
Follow-up appointments were held an average of two years later, and after each scan, scientists calculated the apparent diffusion coefficient – a measurement of water movement within tissue.
By the follow-up appointment, 17 patients required treatment as their cancer had progressed, while 33 remained under active surveillance.
The scientists found that for patients who progressed to treatment, the diffusion-weighted measurements fell between the two scans, while the measurements remained similar for patients under active surveillance.
Study leader Professor Nandita deSouza said diffusion-weighted MRI has a lot of potential for monitoring patients under active surveillance, as the scans clearly showed which patient’s cancers were progressing.
“If the technique continues to show promise in larger-scale studies, it could one day save men under active surveillance from the discomfort and potential complications of regular biopsies,” deSouza added.