Life-saving prostate scan can pinpoint cancer cells and identify men who need more powerful treatment, research suggests

  • Scientists have found radioactive molecule which sticks to prostate cancer cells
  • Lights them up in a scan and is 27 per cent more accurate then routine methods
  • Technique detects when prostate cancer has spread further into a man’s pelvis

An improved prostate cancer scan could save lives by detecting those at risk of recurrence.

Scientists have found using a radioactive molecule which sticks to prostate cancer cells and lights them up in a scan is 27 per cent more accurate than the methods which are routinely used.

The technique detects when prostate cancer has spread further into the pelvis or beyond and, therefore, identifies the men who need more powerful radiotherapy, or wider surgery.

If missed, prostate cancer cells that have spread can lurk in the body and cause a recurrence years later. If they can be found, and removed, it prevents men getting a devastating second diagnosis.

Scientists have found using a radioactive molecule which sticks to prostate cancer cells and lights them up in a scan is 27 per cent more accurate than the methods which are routinely used (stock image)

Researchers found the scan, called a PSMA-PET/CT scan, correctly detected whether prostate cancer cells had spread or not in 92 per cent of men. 

Conventional CT and bone scans, often used on the NHS in England, produced accurate results in just under two-thirds. The results were taken from 295 men newly diagnosed with high-risk, more aggressive prostate cancer, from ten Australian hospitals.

Professor Declan Murphy, senior author of the study from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said: ‘Around one in three prostate cancer patients will experience a disease relapse after surgery or radiotherapy. 

‘This is partly because current medical imaging techniques often fail to detect when the cancer has spread.’

The study, published in the Lancet journal, gave 150 men conventional scans and 145 the PSMA-PET/CT scan first, then swapped to compare.

The latter was more accurate, showing those whose cancer had spread so much that it was incurable – sparing them unnecessary surgery, which can cause impotence and incontinence.

It also highlighted those whose cancer had spread into their pelvis, allowing 7 per cent to have further surgery. Another 7 per cent were given more powerful radiotherapy, or radiotherapy over a wider area of their body.

The researchers were able to see the scans were accurate based on biopsies and follow-up imaging six months later.

Nearly 48,000 men are now diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year. The Daily Mail is campaigning for greater awareness, treatment and diagnosis of prostate cancer, which, although improving, are lagging years behind other diseases such as breast cancer.

The study was funded by men’s health charity Movember. Dr Mark Buzza, its global director of prostate cancer biomedical research, said: ‘There is now solid evidence that PSMA-PET/CT scans are the gold standard first-line imaging test for staging high-risk prostate cancer.

‘We would like to see PSMA scans adopted into clinical practice as soon as possible for this group of men.’

Source: Dailymail

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