Prostate cancer diagnosis breakthrough?

26th April 2018

Written by Rikki Spofforth, medical negligence assistant litigation executive at Fletchers. 

Researchers at the University of Dundee have identified a new ultrasound process which offers a more successful diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The research, led by Professor Ghulam Nabi, has identified a new process called shear wave elastography (SWE), which has been shown to offer much greater accuracy and reliability in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 45,000 new cases diagnosed every year. It’s estimated that in the UK, 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

Currently, the most common tests for the disease include PSA blood test, a digital rectal examination, MRI scans and biopsy, however, the university has said each of these carry ‘significant problems’ and can be unreliable.

SWE was able to detect 89% of prostate cancers and was also successful in identifying the more aggressive cancers, and those spreading from outside the prostate. The technology is already used in diagnosing breast cancer and liver diseases, for it to be used for prostate cancer a special probe had to be developed by the team.

Professor Ghulam Nabi spoke about the new process,

Prostate cancer is one of the most difficult to pinpoint. We are still in a position where our diagnosis of prostate cancer is extremely inefficient, leading to unnecessary treatments for many patients. The new method we have developed shows we can achieve much greater levels of diagnosis, including identifying the difference between cancerous and benign tissue without the need for invasive surgery.

The project at the university was funded by Prostate Cancer UK with support from the Movember Foundation. Paul Villanti, Executive Director of Programs at the Movember Foundation commented on the news, “This is a promising development that addresses the limitations of current prostate cancer diagnosis tests, to provide the best possible outcomes for men.“

The breakthrough has been welcomed by Stephen Fry, comedian and former rector of Dundee University, who recently had surgery to deal with a prostate tumour. “Anyone who has been in my position will know that when it comes to this pernicious disease early screening and diagnosis is the absolute key to a successful outcome. The news of this breakthrough comes at a time when prostate cancer is being pushed to the forefront of our consciousness in the UK, not least because of the disturbing upward trend in its prevalence.”

Hopefully, further testing on a wider scale will prove to be as effective, and a breakthrough in the improvement of detection of this most pernicious of diseases can be hailed as having been made, which will go on to save the lives of many men throughout the UK




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