Here’s a new way to avoid prostate biopsies
Avoiding biopsies is one of the best things a man can do for his prostate health. Doctors usually order a biopsy if a patient’s PSA test is high and trending upward, or if the dreaded exam the doctor does with his finger indicates a prostate tumor might be present.
If you “flunk” one or both of those tests, a biopsy is usually next. This is a nasty test in which a needle is used to remove tissue from the prostate. The tissue sample is analyzed in a lab to see if any cancer cells are present. Now, if you think about it for more than 30 seconds, you’ll figure out there have got to be a lot of problems with this test. And you’re right.
For one thing, cancer can exist in one small part of the prostate while the rest of the gland is cancer-free. So what good does it do to remove a few cells from one little spot? Answer: almost no good at all. But the medical profession has a really nasty solution. . .
Toxic chemical condemned 8 men to die of prostate cancer
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Since one tissue sample or “core” is just about sure to miss cancer if you do have it, doctors take as many as 12 cores — even 20 cores — to make sure they don’t miss anything. Having up to 20 holes punched in this delicate little gland doesn’t sound healthy, because it isn’t.
Besides the obvious damage to the prostate, the patient is at risk of bleeding and infection. Worst of all, the needles can spread loose cancer cells both within the prostate and on their way to and from it. Punching a hole in a tumor just spills the contents into nearby tissue that’s still healthy, and into the blood stream.
Only 25 percent to 35 percent of the patients who undergo a biopsy with a PSA level between 4 and 9 actually have cancer, says the National Cancer Institute. So most of the time the test is unneeded.
You’ve got better choices
Biopsies are a terrible idea. In my Special Report, Don’t Touch My Prostate, I describe other options including magnetic spectroscopy or MRS to diagnose prostate cancer. This noninvasive test is safer by far than needle biopsies. Ask for it only IF you have other reasons to think you might have a tumor. Those other reasons include a PSA score that’s been going up over a period of time or a digital rectal exam where the doctor thinks the gland doesn’t feel right.
I haven’t seen any other publication besides my Special Report explain to men what MRS is and why it’s an important tool in prostate screening. But now I’m seeing news about the more familiar MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). There’s a new, improved MRI that allows doctors to peek inside the prostate without needles. It sounds to me like MRS is a better choice — but this new variant of MRI, called VividLook, is well worth considering.
It may come down to what’s available in your town or what your doctor is willing to go along with. So let me say a word about VividLook.
The VividLook website (www.icadmed.com) describes a case history of a man, aged 64, whose PSA was going up. It started at 7, went up to 9 six months later, and then edged up to 10. A PSA under 4 is considered pretty safe. As I’ve said before, the PSA is not an accurate test, but changes in the score MAY indicate a problem.
Concerned, this patient’s doctors put the poor guy through three rounds of biopsies. The first one took 12 samples. Six months later, the second round took 20 samples. And in the third round the doctor gouged no less than 34 tissue samples out of the poor guy’s prostate.
It’s painful to even read, much less go through. And none of those 66 samples showed any sign of cancer.
Good news, you might think. But hold on! The patient went through a VividLook MRI, which did find abnormalities. To get confirmation, four more biopsied samples were taken, but this time the doctors knew where to look for the tumor, and they found it.
A case of over-treatment? Probably, but here’s the main point…
This particular case begs all kinds of questions, such as whether the doctors were much too aggressive about conducting biopsies for what was, after all, still a fairly low PSA score. And it begs the question of what to do next, once they found the tumor. (The best answer may well be: nothing.) But without doubt it shows VividLook is a more accurate, less-damaging method of finding prostate tumors.
Dr. Mark Shapiro, chief of radiology at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey, says, “This is another tool in the approach in the management of prostate cancer. It will potentially eliminate the need for biopsies in some men and help guide biopsies in others so we will have a lot less false-negative biopsy results.” (A false negative occurs when cancer is present but the biopsy results say it isn’t.)
Traditional MRI isn’t useful on the prostate because the gland is filled with numerous veins and arteries and located deep within the pelvic cavity, behind the bladder. VividLook seems to have solved some of the technical problems and may finally give doctors a way to look at the prostate without damaging it. It sounds like a good option for men who suspect prostate cancer.
This publication is dedicated to finding better cancer options, and on Wednesday I spotlighted one of the most important things you need to do if you want to treat OR prevent cancer. If you missed it, just scroll down and take a look.