Prostate cancer is generally diagnosed through biopsy, in which a sample of body tissue is examined. Sometimes with this technique, cancer can be missed if none of the needles reach the affected tissue, which is known as a false negative. If a false negative is suspected, the biopsy may need to be performed again, meaning the patient is left without answers or results. However, technology has been developed which opens up new doors for specialists and offers an innovative way for prostate cancer to be detected.
The most currently-used technique for diagnosing prostate cancer is needle biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is removed from the body and viewed under a microscope. The test only takes about 10 minutes and can be done at the doctor's clinic. It is a quick procedure, and while some discomfort may be felt, it is usually brief. The biopsy sample is then sent off to a lab for testing, and results generally take about 3 days to come back.
What is fusion biopsy of the prostate?
Fusion systems are emerging in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, allowing better diagnosis and swifter treatment. Fusion biopsy allows the urologist to be more accurate with the biopsy and target a specific area in the prostate.
Using an MRI scanner, images of the prostate are taken, so the specialist can check ‘suspicious’ areas on the scan and identify where there may be a tumour or lesion. These images are then ‘fused’ with ultrasound images of the prostate in real time, allowing precise targeting and a faster diagnosis. A virtual targeted biopsy is first performed, for the specialist to visualize where they will need to insert the probe, with a real targeted biopsy then being carried out afterwards.
With fusion biopsy, the specialist can assess the stage of the cancer and how aggressive it is. Fusion biopsy also reduces the chance of further biopsies being needed.
Treatment of prostate cancer
If a cancer is detected during the fusion biopsy, it will need treatment.
If prostate cancer is left untreated, it can spread through the blood and lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the bones, bladder, rectum, liver, lungs, or brain - though this occurs in the advanced stages of prostate cancer.
Treatment options for prostate cancer will depend on if the cancer is localised (contained within the prostate) or if it has indeed spread to other areas in the body, the rate it is growing, and on the state of your overall health.
If the cancer is localised, it might not need to be treated. Your specialist will monitor the cancer through regular check-ups.
However, if the cancer does need treating, there are several option. The main treatments for prostate cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, and brachytherapy. Other treatments occasionally offered include cryotherapy and HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound). Speak to your specialist to determine the best treatment course based on your individual needs.