As Prostate Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, we are pleased to announce that our 40th Anniversary Appeal now has enough funds to purchase a new MRI Fusion and Template Prostate Biopsy Machine for the Urology and Oncology departments at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
We sat down with Dr Srihari (Consultant Oncologist) and Mr Lynn (Consultant Urological Surgeon), who explained why this purchase will make such as difference to patients with suspected prostate cancer in our area.
“Traditionally, when we suspect a patient has prostate cancer, they will have had an abnormal blood test [PSA test]. These tests aren’t completely reliable, so he will be asked to come in for a biopsy of the prostate gland. We would take six random samples from the left of the prostate and six from the right. We use an ultrasound to evenly space it, and hope that we catch the tumour, if there is one there.
It doesn’t always identify cancer, so some patients will have to be monitored for a long period of time and come back for a second, third or fourth biopsy. It can be a gap of three or four years before we find the cancer.
About two or three years ago, the process changed across the UK so that patients who have a negative biopsy [one that does not show cancer] the come and have an MRI scan and if that scan shows an abnormality, we do an ultrasound and use what we call ‘cognitive mapping’ [mapping in the mind] to work out where we think the cancer is, and take a biopsy accordingly.”
So, how will this change when our new equipment arrives?
“The new equipment allows us to upload images from an MRI scan, and then merges them with ultrasound images to tell us exactly where the abnormality is within the gland, and guide the operator to the right place to biopsy.
When this is installed, a patient coming in with an abnormal blood test will be asked to have an MRI scan first. If there’s an abnormality, they’ll have a fusion biopsy with this machine. It should give us a much better diagnosis rate, and instead of two biopsies they may only need one.
The machine will also allow us to do what is known as a template biopsy. This is for patients whose fusion biopsy did not show cancer, but we still suspect it is there. MRI scans will show about 70% of prostate cancers, so about 30% of patients’ cancers will need further testing.
A template biopsy is taken under general anaesthetic and allows us to biopsy every part of the prostate in 3-5mm slices. If cancer is still not found we can be very confident then that it is not there.
Having this machine will mean that the Royal Shrewsbury is the only hospital in the West Midlands who are able to offer both fusion and template biopsies. This means our patients are able to have the best possible procedures right here in Shrewsbury.”
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that undertaking an MRI Scan first spared 28% of men having a biopsy at all. Where a scan showed an abnormality, using the MRI to target the biopsy found “significant” cancers in 38% of men, rather than 26% who had standard, un-targeted biopsies.
This is the first major purchase to be funded by our £1.25 million 40th Anniversary Appeal. We are excited to be funding equipment that increases the accuracy of diagnoses, reduces the number of biopsies required by a patient, and keeps excellent services local. This machine will also complement a new MRI Scanner recently installed at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, as a result of funds raised by the hospital’s League of Friends.
So far we have raised an amazing £567,548.44 which also allows us to purchase some other items which we’ll be letting you know about very soon. Thank you to everyone who has supported our appeal so far- we are funded entirely by the generosity of our local community and we couldn’t do it without you!
To find out more about our appeal and what we are raising money for now, click here.
To find out more about prostate cancer click here.