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MRI Interpretation Learning Curve Affects Prostate Cancer Detection Rates

As operators grow more experienced, cancer detection rates increase.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Thursday, June 28, 2018


MRI-ultrasound fusion-targeted biopsy (MRF-TB) detects many prostate cancers, combining a specialized MRI scan with an ultrasound image to help doctors precisely target the area of the prostate that needs to be biopsied. However, concerns remain that some cancers are either undergraded or missed by this technique. Now, researchers report that a major cause of missed cancers is the learning curve associated with MRF-TB.

In a study published in the Journal of Urology, researchers analyzed 1,813 prostate biopsies conducted at NYU Langone Hospital over a four-year period. They examined trends over time in cancer detection rates, outcomes of repeat MRF-TB, and rates of cancer missed by MRF-TB.

The results indicated that significantly fewer prostate cancers were missed in the most recent biopsies as compared to the earliest biopsies. Over the study period, the number of prostate cancers missed or undergraded by MRF-TB decreased, while the overall cancer detection rate increased with MRF-TB.

The researchers conclude that doctors’ increasing experience in prostate MRI interpretation is likely the strongest contributor to the observed increasing cancer detection rate over time. They say that the significant learning curve for MRF-TB contributes to errors in targeting that lead to missed cancers or undergrading.

The good news is that improved targeting accuracy comes with experience. Over time, doctors who use MRF-TB will miss fewer prostate cancers with the technique.