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15 October 2009
Doctors probe aggressive "hidden" prostate cancers
by George Atkinson

Why do some men returning repeated negative biopsies still develop aggressive prostate cancer?

Doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Canada, believe the answer is hidden tumors located on the top of the prostate that evade traditional diagnostic procedures, including ultrasound-guided needle biopsy. The new research, appearing in the British Journal of Urology International, demonstrates that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the best tool to reveal such tumors.

"Our findings identify a specific high-risk group whose tumors are difficult to diagnose because of location. These men benefit from MRI, which guides the biopsy procedure with a high degree of accuracy," says study author Dr. Nathan Lawrentschuk. He calls such hidden tumors "prostate evasive anterior tumor syndrome" (PEATS).

"Knowing about PEATS may also be important for men already on 'active surveillance' - patients with slow-growing prostate cancer who are being regularly monitored through PSA testing and biopsy. Every man does not need an MRI, but knowing about PEATS will help us identify those who do," said co-researcher Dr. Neil Fleshner.

In the study, the researchers found that MRI was able to help diagnose hidden prostate tumors 87 percent of the time. Dr. Lawrentschuk says doctors need to be aware of PEATS because hidden tumors can be very aggressive.

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Source: University Health Network

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