Prostate health - diagnostic tests

04 March 2017

Prostate cancer update – MRI scanning for diagnosis and prostate mapping biopsies

Mr Sanjeev Taneja, Consultant Urological Surgeon

Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men in the UK. It accounts for just over a quarter of all male cancers. However prostate cancer is not the commonest cause of cancer deaths. Most patients diagnosed with prostate cancer can be expected to live for several years regardless of stage of the disease, aggressiveness of the disease or the treatment given.

Diagnosing and treating prostate cancer are highly complex and invasive processes. The Holy Grail in prostate cancer is to predict which cancers will grow aggressively and spread faster. Identifying aggressive cancers early and treating them will benefit these patients while those with a less aggressive form. Recognising cancers which are less aggressive means that the patient doesn’t receive any unnecessary treatment.

While we are far from achieving this, a couple of developments have provided options to make the process of prostate cancer diagnostics safer.

First is the use of MRI scanning. MRI has an established role in looking for spread of prostate cancer after it has been diagnosed. However, it is now being used for the diagnosis as well.  MRI is used to look for abnormal areas in the prostate which may identify cancer with more certainty than a random, blind biopsy of the prostate will allow.

The second development is the new technique of taking the prostate biopsies via the ‘transperineal’ route. The traditional way of taking a biopsy from the prostate is through the back passage. There is a small risk of introducing serious infection or sepsis with this technique, which on rare occasion can be life threatening. Also this technique does not allow all parts of the prostate gland to be targeted by the biopsy, thus missing many cancers. Transperineal biopsies, targeting the prostate gland through the skin in front of the back passage, are able to target all parts of the prostate by “mapping” the gland. This also has a much lower risk of causing serious infection. 

Both these developments make prostate cancer diagnosis safer and more reliable.

Having a PSA blood test, examining prostate gland through the back passage, interpretation of the PSA results and need for further investigations including MRI scan and prostate biopsies are part of this discussion and decision making process. It is of utmost importance that a detailed discussion is held between the patient and the clinician before a sensible and individual plan is made for this complex process.

Having been involved with this process for many years and being closely involved with setting up and delivering the prostate cancer diagnostics including the MRI and Transperineal mapping prostate biopsies, I am pleased to offer this service at the Spire Harpenden Hospital.

 To book an appointment with Mr Taneja, call our team now on 01582 714 420 or email

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