Advances in medical technology are helping University of Minnesota Cancer Care urologic surgeons shine a new light—literally and figuratively—on prostate tumors.
Roughly 250,000 new prostate cancer cases are identified each year in the United States. Prostate cancer can be one of the most frustrating conditions for doctors to diagnose, according to Badrinath Konety, MD, director of the University of Minnesota Health Institute for Prostate and Urologic Cancers.
Typically, doctors identify the disease through a biopsy—a procedure involving the removal of small portions of tissue from the prostate. But doctors cannot guarantee that the cancer—if it’s there at all—will be found during a single biopsy, said Konety. That can mean multiple biopsies. With each additional procedure, risk for infection increases, which can require hospitalization.
“We needed a better system,” Konety said. “We started asking, ‘What if we had a better mechanism to identify the cancer spots (so we) don’t have to keep repeating biopsies?’”
Enter magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The technology has been around for a quarter century, recently, experts discovered that a prostate tumor shows up as a suspiciously dark spot in an MRI image. By identifying the dark spots on a scan and then targeting those suspected tumors directly with the biopsy needle, urologic surgeons can now more accurately diagnose whether cancer is present, and with less damage to the prostate itself.
University of Minnesota Cancer Care surgeons have been performing MRI-guided prostate biopsies for about three years now. But last summer University of Minnesota Cancer Care acquired a more advanced “fusion” device, which superimposes the MRI image onto an ultrasound of the patient’s prostate. Physicians are now utilizing MRI Fusion Biopsy technology to conduct a biopsy with the added advantages of imaging during the procedure.
University of Minnesota Cancer Care has developed a specialty group that includes a team of expert radiologists who review MRI images for suspicious dark spots, and specialist nurses trained to assist with the procedure.
“Since then, we’ve done more than 60 cases using the new real-time approach. We’ve been doing this longer than anybody else in the Twin Cities,” said Konety.