Advantages of MRI in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment

The conventional method of prostate cancer detection is based on blood tests showing elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels followed by an uncomfortable digital rectal examination (DRE) and a 12-needle biopsy under ultrasound guidance.
Professor Jelle Barentsz, Head of the Prostate MR Reference Centre in Nijmegen, Netherlands, has pioneered a novel approach using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to effectively confirm or exclude suspected prostate cancer as well as determine the aggressiveness and spread of the disease, and even treat it in a number of cases. Despite obvious advantages, this approach has yet to gain wider acceptance, not least among radiologists who need to be trained for the procedure. Insurance companies and national health systems also have to be convinced of the benefits of the MRI-based method.

The limitation of the standard PSA test is its low specificity