A research article published in the January 27, 2015 online edition of JAMA reveals that, in men undergoing biopsy for suspected prostate cancer, targeted MR ultrasound fusion biopsy was associated with an increased detection of high-risk prostate cancer and decreased detection of low-risk prostate cancer, when compared with standard extended-sextant ultrasound-guided biopsy. According to the article, investigators conducting a research study for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 30% more high-risk prostate cancers were diagnosed with targeted fusion-guided biopsy, and 17% fewer low-risk cancers were diagnosed.

In a targeted biopsy, the article explains, MRIs of a suspected cancer are fused with real-time ultrasound images to create a map of the prostate that enables doctors to pinpoint and test suspicious areas. In a standard biopsy, doctors use ultrasound guidance to take multiple random tissue samples from throughout the gland.

“This study demonstrates that the MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsy technique offers benefits when compared to the current standard of care to diagnose clinically significant prostate cancer,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Although further research is needed, this method holds promise, especially for diagnosing men with high-grade, aggressive cancers that may go undetected.”

More than 1,000 men participated in the research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over a 7-year period. Dr Reece indicated that M. Minhaj Siddiqui, MD, Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, University of Maryland, and co-author and the lead investigator of the current study, is actively pursuing new research initiatives to bring fusion-guided biopsy into the clinical setting.