Prostate cancer generally affects older men and since that group is a powerful and influential one, a lot of attention is paid to the diagnosis and treatment of that condition. Now there is a new study that provides promise of a better early detection system than the PSA blood test in which elevated levels leads to biopsies to see if there really is a tumor. The PSA test is not a very good one and the biopsies that are often triggered by it have problems.
This medical procedure [biopsies], which was recently described by an American urology professor as ‘barbaric’, shows that 70% of the subjects do not have cancer. The examination is unnecessarily painful and involves risk for these patients, and it is also costly to carry out.
The proposed new method uses ultrasound detection.
Patients are given a single injection of a contrast medium containing tiny bubbles, which are shown by the ultrasound scanner right down to the smallest blood vessels. Using advanced image-analysis techniques that can recognize the characteristic blood vessel pattern in tumors, the computer then generates an image showing where the tumor is. The examination only takes one minute, and the results are available no more than a few minutes later. These examinations also save money, because costly biopsy analysis is no longer necessary.
Since the PSA test is widely used and has such a high false positive rate, anything that leads to a quicker, cheaper, and more accurate diagnosis is a good thing.