Can Ultrasound Diagnostics Replace Biopsy for Prostate Cancer

Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands have found that ultrasound diagnostics can be quite effective in identifying the prostate cancer.

Two-thirds of biopsies carried out for diagnosing prostate cancer turn out to be unnecessary. The ailment is quite prevalent with 200,000 men diagnosed with it every year in the United States.

How Effective is Ultrasound Diagnostics in Identifying Prostate Cancer?

  • The presence of a substance, the PSA (prostate-specific antigen), in the blood is initially measured as part of the diagnosis for prostate cancer.
  • It is followed by biopsy which involves cutting a part of the cancer tumor and studying it under the microscope to identify the cancer cells precisely.
  • Both these diagnostic techniques have their own flaws and fall short of properly finding the tumor.
  • The disadvantage with biopsy is that in one-thirds of cases, the test leads to negative results and the operation when performed turns out to be unnecessary.
  • In the new technique, ultrasound is used to find the tiny bubbles of a contrast agent injected into the body.
  • The response of these bubbles when surrounded by cancer tissues is different from the response given by the bubbles around the healthy tissues.
  • The pattern of these bubbles help in identifying the aggressiveness of the rogue prostate cancer cells.
  • The pictures of the tumor site and size were found to precisely match with the actual tumor.
  • As the next stage of the research, the experts will be finding how the ultrasound technology can be better used to reduce the number of biopsies carried out.
  • The diagnostic tool is expected to be available in the market by the next five years.


Ultimately, the ultrasound diagnostics should enable the doctors to do away with biopsies prior to deciding the need and type of operations for prostate cancer.

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