Prostate cancer strikes 1 in 6 men and is the second leading cause of cancer death among men aged 50 and older. The presence of prostate cancer may be suspected if a patient shows elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland. A simple blood test can reveal higher than normal amounts of PSA protein, which may indicate prostate disease, but this test by itself is insufficient in diagnosing cancer. PSA naturally increases as a man ages, so what is considered a normal level changes over time. Sudden jumps in PSA protein, even if the amount still falls within the normal range for one’s age, can indicate problems. For this reason, many organizations and clinicians recommend that men aged 40 – 70 get a PSA test every two to four years, and that men with elevated PSA should consider getting tested annually. Because early prostate cancer usually produces no symptoms, catching it before it can spread to other organs is paramount, making PSA testing an important part of men’s healthcare.
Oftentimes elevated PSA and even enlargement of the prostate, which is usually discovered by manual palpation of the prostate (called a digital rectal exam), can be related to relatively benign causes, such as age, inflammation or infection, even certain strenuous activities. In fact, statistics show that a high PSA is the result of cancer in only about 1 in 4 patients, so secondary testing is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. Often radiologists depend on ultrasound or computed tomography for follow-up analysis, but Radiology Associates Imaging offers magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a more detailed, exact and reliable corresponding exam. MRI provides sharp anatomical images for superior prostate cancer diagnosis, and, if needed, treatment planning and management. Because MRI uses a magnetic field, radio waves and computer software to create images, it does not expose patients to ionizing radiation like x-ray or CT scans.
Unlike many other diagnostic providers, Radiology Associates Imaging remains at the forefront of advanced technologies, and doesn’t settle for ordinary MRI imaging for its prostate analyses. RAI offers the 3 Tesla MRI, the most advanced MRI in the industry. With twice the power of a high-field MRI and 10-15 times the might of an open MRI, the 3 Tesla MRI is capable of capturing images of even the tiniest abnormalities, making it a powerhouse in the search for early cancer. This painless scan is faster than standard MRI, for greater comfort and convenience. It can help your radiologist and referring clinician diagnose cancer, infection, abscess or an enlarged prostate due to a noncancerous condition like benign prostatic hyperplasia. When treatment is needed, 3T MRI is a highly effective tool to assist in planning.
If a biopsy has been performed, MRI scanning should be postponed for six to eight weeks until any resulting blood in the prostate can be eliminated from the body.
Don’t postpone regular prostate testing. When caught early, prostate cancer is highly treatable. For more information on 3T MRI prostate testing, call your clinician or Radiology Associates Imaging at the location nearest you.