A new type of MRI scan could help doctors diagnose prostate cancer more accurately – and spare thousands of men from undergoing unnecessary biopsies according to research published today (3rd August 2022) in Radiology.

The INNOVATE trial, funded by Prostate Cancer UK and Movember, found that using an innovative type of scan – called VERDICT MRI – alongside standard imaging techniques was significantly better at identifying men who do not have prostate cancer. These men could safely avoid biopsy altogether, reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies by 90%.

This research, which is based at University College London and supported by the National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA), could benefit thousands of men each year who undergo a prostate biopsy only to be told that they don’t have prostate cancer. Biopsies can cause unintended side effects, such as infections, as well as causing unnecessary anxiety for men. The new technique can also be carried out using MRI scanners that are already widely used in the UK, meaning it should be straightforward to bring into clinical practice.

Professor Shonit Punwani, lead investigator of the INNOVATE trial, said:

These results show that VERDICT could allow men to know, with confidence, that they do not have prostate cancer and do not need a biopsy.

This new technique requires no new equipment – it can be been done on MRI scanners already in use and should eventually be possible on all standard 3T scanners, so would be relatively easy to roll out into clinical practice across the UK. It potentially has the added benefit of reducing the cost of diagnosing prostate cancer to the NHS, which is hugely important given the additional strain on the system caused by the pandemic.

Our next step is to use VERDICT MRI in an even bigger clinical across multiple hospital sites. If successful, the trial should provide the evidence needed to change practice in the NHS in the near future.”

The INNOVATE trial was funded as part of a Prostate Cancer UK and Movember scheme designed to take early-stage research and bring it closer to clinical practice. As a result, the trial has gone from being used in 8 men when this trial was funded to over 300 men in this study alone.

Dr Matthew Hobbs, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said:

“It’s rare to see such a big improvement on current practice, both in terms of accuracy and driving down harms caused by testing.

These results are a massive leap forward for an exciting new test that could spare thousands of men each year unnecessary anxiety and pain.”

Dr Sarah Hsiao, Director Biomedical Research and Impact at Movember, said:

It’s yet another win for Prostate Cancer UK’s longstanding partnership with Movember, which has seen us fund over 90 grants together since 2012. Today’s exciting results show that we are now seeing those grants make real improvements for men with prostate cancer.”

Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences, said:

This study shows that we are at the beginning of the journey in terms of what MRI can do in order to characterise prostate cancer in a non-invasive manner. It does raise the tantalising prospect of reducing our dependency on prostate biopsy in the future.”

 For more information please contact Prostate Cancer UK’s media team on 07984 325 001 or pressoffice@prostatecanceruk.org.  

The full article can be found here: https://pubs.rsna.org/eprint/KMI6HUJZB3JUG3UBS3ID/full

About Prostate Cancer UK

  • Prostate Cancer UK has a simple ambition – to stop prostate cancer damaging the lives of men and their families.
  • Investing into finding better treatments and tests that could save thousands of lives.
  • Working with the NHS to make sure men get access to breakthrough tests and treatments.
  • Spreading the word about who is at risk of prostate cancer, especially to those at higher risk.
  • Supporting people dealing with prostate cancer and providing health information.
  • Visit prostatecanceruk.org now to help beat this disease.
  • @ProstateUK #MenWeAreWithYou

About prostate cancer

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
  • More than 11,500 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year – that’s one man every 45 minutes.
  • More than 47,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that’s 129 men every day.
  • 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This raises to 1 in 4 for black men.
  • Around 400,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.
  • A 30-second online risk checker is available at prostatecanceruk.org/risk-checker 
  • Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and the risk increases with age. But the risk is higher for black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer, so they may wish to speak to their GP from age 45.
  • Prostate cancer often has no symptoms so men shouldn’t wait to see changes before they act.
  • Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer may contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant messaging service: prostatecanceruk.org.

About Movember

  • Movember is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health on a global scale, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
  • The charity raises funds to deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programmes that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives. Committed to disrupting the status quo, millions have joined the movement, helping fund over 1,250 projects around the world.
  • In addition to tackling key health issues faced by men, Movember is working to encourage men to stay healthy in all areas of their life, with a focus on men staying socially connected and becoming more open to discussing their health and significant moments in their lives.
  • The charity’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. To donate or learn more, please visit Movember.com.

About UCL – London’s Global University

UCL is a diverse global community of world-class academics, students, industry links, external partners, and alumni. Our powerful collective of individuals and institutions work together to explore new possibilities.

Since 1826, we have championed independent thought by attracting and nurturing the world’s best minds. Our community of more than 43,800 students from 150 countries and over 14,300 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems.

We are consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the world and are one of only a handful of institutions rated as having the strongest academic reputation and the broadest research impact.

We have a progressive and integrated approach to our teaching and research – championing innovation, creativity and cross-disciplinary working. We teach our students how to think, not what to think, and see them as partners, collaborators and contributors.  

For almost 200 years, we are proud to have opened higher education to students from a wide range of backgrounds and to change the way we create and share knowledge.

We were the first in England to welcome women to university education and that courageous attitude and disruptive spirit is still alive today. We are UCL.

www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow @uclnews on Twitter | Read news at www.ucl.ac.uk/news/ | Listen to UCL podcasts on SoundCloud | Find out what’s on at UCL Minds

About the National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA) 

NCITA is a national UK infrastructure consortium funded by a 5-year Cancer Research UK Accelerator Award to accelerate the standardisation and clinical translation of imaging biomarkers into clinical trials and the NHS.  NCITA brings together nine world-leading medical imaging centres from across the UK including University College London, University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Institute of Cancer Research London, King’s College London, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, Newcastle University and University of Glasgow.  NCITA provides clinical researchers with access to a unified infrastructure for multicentre clinical imaging studies including a specialised imaging clinical trials unit, quality assurance and control unit and data repository services, as well as ongoing training opportunities.  For more information on NCITA’s infrastructure support for multicentre clinical imaging research, please visit ncita.org.uk and follow @imaging_cancer on Twitter.