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A study looking at a new type of MRI scan in men having surgery for prostate cancer (DMAPS)
More about this trial
To help plan your surgery, your surgeon will look at pictures taken during tests to help diagnose your disease. These include an ultrasound scan of your prostate via your back passage (transrectal ultrasound), and an MRI scan. But although useful, these cannot always clearly show the difference between healthy tissue and cancerous tissue.
This study looked at using a new type of MRI scan called diffusion weighted MRI or DW MRI, which may show the difference more clearly. DW MRI looks at the movement of water molecules, which shows up differently in cancerous and healthy tissue.
A DW MRI scan is very similar to a normal MRI, but takes a little longer. Men who took part in this study had a DW MRI scan before their surgery. The team compared results from this study scan with those from the routine MRI scan and tissue removed during surgery.
If the results from this pilot study were promising, the team hoped to develop a phase 3 trial comparing how accurately DW MRI scans and MRI scans helped doctors to decide the stage of prostate cancer before surgery.
Summary of results
The study team found that adding DW MRI scans to MRI scans was a more accurate way of seeing if prostate cancer had broken through the covering (capsule) of the prostate gland.
This study recruited 40 men. The tissue samples taken from their prostate showed that 23 of the 40 men (58%) had cancer that had broken through the covering of the prostate.
In this study 2 doctors who specialise in reading scans (radiologists) looked at the scans. One had 10 years experience reading scans and the other had 2 years experience. When they looked at the scans they had no other information about the men.
They first looked at the MRI scan. Then immediately afterwards, they looked at both the MRI scan alongside the DW MRI scan.
The study team found that for both doctors, looking at the MRI scan alongside the DW MRI scan improved accuracy about how many cancers had, or hadn’t, broken through the prostate gland covering. The study team said this couldn’t have happened by chance and so was
The study team concluded that viewing DW MRI scans with MRI scans was a more accurate way of assessing if prostate cancer had broken through the covering (capsule) of the prostate gland.
At this time the team don’t plan to do a phase 3 trial. Because of the good results of the study Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust are moving toward using DW MRI scans as a part of their standard series of tests to assess prostate cancer.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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Mr Vincent Gnanapragasam
Cancer Research UK
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Hutchison Whampoa Limited
NIHR Comprehensive Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre
Royal College of Surgeons of England
University of Cambridge