Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health, offers a new testing option for men with suspected prostate cancer. A prostate MRI (pelvic MRI with endorectal coil) can be used to obtain high quality images of the prostate gland, and represents an optimal method for visualizing the local anatomy and extent of the prostate cancer.
Because a prostate MRI helps physicians gain a more accurate understanding of the size and scope of the cancer, it can help patients avoid unnecessary testing and extensive treatment if the cancer is not advanced or aggressive in its current stage. This form of testing can also help to more accurately detect the exact location of the cancer, which can sometimes be difficult for physicians to pinpoint.
“Typically, a biopsy of a prostate will use 12 samples of tissue from different places where prostate cancer is usually found,” says David McGinnis, MD, Bryn Mawr Hospital urologist. “In some cases, the cancer isn’t where it’s typically supposed to be, and can show up in uncommon places within the prostate. The MRI can help surgeons and radiation therapists to map the treatment area, even if it’s located in a not-so-common place.”
When urologists suspect that a man has prostate cancer, but it is not fast-growing or life-threatening at that time, the physician and patient may decide together to monitor the cancer on a regular basis, rather than move forward with treatment. More and more prostate cancer is being managed this way. A prostate MRI, used in conjunction with regular check-ups and other new tools to assess cancer, such as genomic testing, can help physicians to monitor the growth and severity of the cancer.
“This MRI can also help us to find cancers that are not detected by biopsy and ultrasound,” says McGinnis. “If a man has a relatively high PSA that is rising faster than normal, and his biopsies have all been negative, the MRI helps us to detect whether or not cancer is present because of the quality of images it produces. If we do not see cancer, we would keep checking-up with the patient regularly and can avoid more biopsies than are necessary. If we see something on MRI, we can specifically target that area with MRI guidance.”
This type of prostate MRI is not widely available regionally or nationally. Main Line Health invested in new hardware, new software and extra training for the radiology staff in order to establish this program. “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated radiology team, with specialty training in MRI, who started this program,” adds McGinnis. “Most hospitals have MRIs, but the majority of university hospitals in the region don’t yet have this technology. The quality of the images is nothing short of spectacular.”
Currently, the prostate MRI is only offered at Bryn Mawr Hospital, but is available for referral by all Main Line Health urologists and physicians. For information about Main Line Health’s cancer services, please visit mainlinehealth.org/cancer or call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654).