Did you know that men undergo nearly one million UNNECESSARY prostate cancer biopsies each year in the United States?
All due to the tragically flawed prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.
But according to a brand-new study from Sweden—using one, simple, safe imaging scan to aid in the diagnosis process cuts the number of these unnecessary biopsies performed by HALF.
I’ll tell you all about that important study—and how to ask for the scan by name—in just a moment.
But first, let’s back up to talk about why so many men still undergo these needless biopsies…
Empires built on the broken “manhood” of too many men
When I was in medical training in the 1970s, I witnessed urologists mutilate and neuter a whole generation of men diagnosed with prostate cancer and other prostate “diseases.” Partly because we didn’t know as much about diseases of the prostate and how slowly most tend to progress.
Then, in 1986, the hugely flawed PSA test came on scene. But it was only supposed to be used as a tool to follow men already diagnosed with prostate cancer…NOT as a screening or diagnostic tool. (It has an astounding 75 percent false-positive rate as a screening or diagnostic tool!)
Yet, despite this woeful evidence, many urologists STILL rely on PSA testing to help diagnose prostate cancer. And getting a high PSA finding often triggers a knee-jerk response from the urologist to biopsy and sample the prostate area.
Of course, sometimes, the pathologist does find cells that they decide to label as “cancer” in these small tissue samples.
But, in most cases, these cells DON’T behave like real cancer cells—meaning, they don’t invade and spread to distant parts of the body. And, even if left completely alone, they probably wouldn’t cause harm to the man…much less shorten his life! Whereas finding and treating them may bring immeasurable harms—such as urinary incontinence and sexual impotence. And these harms can far exceed any real risk from the tumor itself to a man’s health.
Indeed, my colleague, Dr. George Lundberg—the former editor of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and founder of Medscape—has said for years that we shouldn’t label these kinds of growths with the word “cancer” at all. Rather, we would do better to leave them alone and monitor them over time with an approach called “active surveillance” or “watchful waiting.”
In fact, according to a urology expert at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, “It is estimated that up to 51 percent of patients having their prostate removed may be candidates for a less invasive, outpatient treatment that helps them get back to their normal lives with a lower risk of urinary incontinence and/or erectile dysfunction.”
Now, keeping this backstory in mind, let’s look at the details of the new study…
Simple, non-invasive scans cut unnecessary prostate biopsies by HALF
For the new study, Swedish researchers tracked more than 12,000 men ages 50 to 74 years between 2018 and 2021.
First, the researchers collected blood samples for PSA analysis. Then, they randomly assigned the men with high PSA scores to get either a traditional biopsy or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
Among the men who got MRI scans, biopsies were only performed IF the scan showed a suspicious and potentially dangerous tumor.
Well, it turns out, performing the MRI detected just as many clinically REAL cancers as going straight to biopsy following a high PSA test. But it reduced the number of unnecessary biopsies performed…and the finding of “fake cancers”…by a staggering 50 percent!
The researchers concluded that “by incorporating MRI into the prostate cancer screening process, we can better recommend biopsy in those men who are at high risk, and perhaps just as importantly, avoid unnecessary biopsies in men who don’t have prostate cancer or have indolent/insignificant disease.”
Be your own advocate, as always
Of course, the prostate is the most common site of cancer in men. Yet, it’s the ONLY cancer where doctors don’t routinely use non-invasive MRI screening to help in the diagnosis process.
And I can’t help but wonder why? Especially when the use of non-invasive MRI scans is a routine part of every other field of medicine!
Well, in the end, here’s my advice to you: If your PSA levels are high, make sure you ask your doctor to order an MRI before agreeing to a prostate biopsy. (And, hopefully, your doctor knows about this new study. It was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. But in case your request is questioned, as always, you can find the source noted here at the bottom of this email.)
In addition, I urge you to learn everything you need to know about how to naturally conquer prostate cancer and other frequent—but neglected—prostate conditions. I tell you more in the January 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“The common, painful prostate problem researchers and experts ignore”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one!
“MRI-targeted or standard biopsy in prostate cancer screening.” The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 7/9/21; 385:908-920. doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2100852.
“Reducing unnecessary biopsy during prostate cancer screening using a four-kallikrein panel: an independent replication. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15):2493-2498. doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2009.24.1968