Breakthrough MRI-Guided Technologies Aim to Reduce Unnecessary Prostate Cancer Surgeries, Improve Quality of Life

Bellevue, Wash. – Overlake Medical Center today announced it is formally adopting a new standard of care for prostate cancer treatment with the potential to dramatically decrease instances of over treatment. The improvements are a result of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies to diagnose and guide biopsies to more accurately identify the cancer type and inform treatment.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer for men and the second-leading cause of death. However, not all prostate cancers are created equal, with some less aggressive than others. Treating all cancers the same has led to over treatment that can have lasting quality-of-life issues, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. 

“One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but not all prostate cancers require immediate treatment,” said urologic oncologist Dr. Khanh Pham, with Washington Urology Associates. “In the past it has been a challenge to distinguish between tumors that are potentially deadly and those that are indolent.”

“We are pleased that Overlake is at the forefront of care, investing in technology that helps us better view high-grade tumors, as well as perform MRI-guided prostate biopsies, which both have huge positive ramifications for patient care.”

David Winokur, Overlake’s Medical Imaging director, explained, “Typically, a patient may come in with elevated prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in their blood, but that number can be the result of anything from aggressive cancer to a simple infection, so an accurate diagnosis is crucial. 

“MRI technology gives us the ability to view detailed cross-sectional images of the prostate and provide a much more accurate view of the type of tumor we’re dealing with. 

“In addition, MRI-guided biopsies are a game changer. We now have the ability to pinpoint exactly where the tumor is and biopsy the precise target rather than the traditional ‘shotgun approach’ of ultrasound guided biopsies.”

In the past, since diagnostic information has been limited and inexact, most patients and doctors understandably err on the side of more aggressive treatment.

“Patients need to fully educate themselves on their diagnosis and treatment options,” said Dr. Pham. “Guidelines from the American Cancer Society as well as the American Urological Association have evolved to include ‘active surveillance’ as an acceptable and viable management option for men with low-grade, indolent prostate cancer. Aggressive treatment, with either surgery or radiation therapy, still remains important in the management of prostate cancer for appropriately selected patients, but may not the best solution in many cases, and Overlake’s new standard of care reflects that.

“And since June is Men’s Health Month, it seems especially appropriate to talk about these advancements now.”