According to some UK scientists, a new prostate cancer test done at the age of 55 offers men “peace of mind” that they will never develop the malignancy.
The new 10-minute prostate cancer scan will detect dangerous malignancies years before they affect an individual.
The new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technique, which is subjected to a UK government-funded trial that begins this summer, will enable the world’s first universal screening program for prostate cancer.
The current prostate cancer screening test is quite unreliable. When applied it to a symptomless man, it would do more harm than good.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is one of the most common blood tests advised, which is thought to miss approximately 15 percent of cancers.
On the other hand, the new MRI test, which does not require injection, radiation or even a doctor, has been honed to detect only cancers that affect “quantity or quality of life”, explained Professor Mark Emberton from University College London (UCL), who is also the co-author of the project.
The professor believes that more than 90 percent of men, who take the test before they reach retirement age, can be assured that they need not worry about the disease.
Prof. Emberton said, “Prostate cancer is pretty slow-growing, so if you’re prostate comes back looking very clean at 55, 60 – I don’t know what age we’ll choose yet – you’re probably very unlikely to get prostate cancer.”
He added, “What’s beautiful about MRI is it overlooks the many, many cancers which don’t need to be diagnosed. That’s the revolution.”
He described the new test as “pretty close” to perfect.
The new MRI scan’s results will be classified on a traffic signal basis:
- Green – all clear
- Yellow – a need for further tests
- Red – a need for urgent referral to a cancer specialist
The professor said the MRI scan should cost less than £150.
In time, it is expected that artificial intelligence (AI) machines will learn to analyze the MRI scans, enabling results on the same day.
Karen Stalbow from Prostate Cancer UK said, “This trial could provide an exciting step towards our ambition for a national screening program that enables men to get the early prostate cancer diagnosis that can save more lives.”
The UK’s leading research body, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), said that it does not support the introduction of universal prostate cancer screening at this point.
However, according to a spokesman, the ICR may change its decision after considering the results of the upcoming clinical trial, which is funded by the Medical Research Council.
Recently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that decides what treatments the NHS must offer has approved a complex, 30-minute MRI scan for patients who are about to undergo a biopsy for suspected prostate cancer. NHS said, “NHS England is already rolling out some of the latest developments in MRI scanning for prostate cancer diagnosis and care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambitions to catch more cancers earlier and save lives. This new test is potentially an exciting development that the NHS will look at as more evidence becomes available.”