prostate cancer exam xray mri

Prostate cancer diagnostic tools with lower infection risk approved for NHS use

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The NHS is to start using new prostate cancer diagnostic tools that carry a lower risk of infection than methods.

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men in the UK according to Cancer Research UK. It mainly affects men over the age of 50 and the risk is higher for people of African family background and people with a family history of prostate cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved four tests for NHS use that carry a lower risk of infection.

At present, people with suspected prostate cancer get an MRI scan followed by a prostate biopsy for analysis. There are two ways of doing a prostate biopsy. In a transrectal ultrasound guided (TRUS) biopsy, samples are collected using a biopsy needle inserted through the rectal wall via the anus.

However TRUS can be associated with serious infections, sometimes requiring hospital admission and antibiotics.

NICE has now approved the use of local anaesthetic transperineal (LATP) biopsies instead, where the needle enters the body through the perineum, the skin area between the anus and the scrotum.

A freehand needle positioning device can be used for LATP which attaches to the ultrasound probe to help target biopsy sampling and could greatly reduce the risk of biopsy-related sepsis compared with a TRUS biopsy.

Evidence presented to the committee suggested that the detection rates of cancer did not differ significantly between a TRUS biopsy and an LATP biopsy using a freehand needle positioning device.

The economic modelling showed that LATP is also likely to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources.

Dr Mark Kroese, chair of the NICE diagnostics advisory committee, said: “People with suspected prostate cancer can now have a different option when it comes to having a biopsy.

“The committee heard from patient experts that there are concerns they are not getting clear and accurate information about having a biopsy, they are worried about an associated risk of infection, and the severity and duration of side effects.

“LATP using a freehand needle positioning device for taking a prostate biopsy should reduce unnecessary infections and therefore antibiotic use, benefitting both the patient and the NHS.”

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