President of the Caribbean Urological Association (CURA), Dr. William Aiken, told JIS News that new information has been derived through extensive cancer research that could save lives.
He explained that there are several new tools available that can greatly assist in differentiating between cancers that are lethal and those that are relatively indolent, in order to selectively treat those deemed life-threatening.
Chief among these, Dr. Aiken said, is the multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.
“MRI uses the magnetic field created by the molecules in the body and interprets the variation in that field and gives an image on a computer screen that can be interpreted to say whether or not cancer is present,” he explained.
Additionally, Dr. Aiken said there are several parameters currently being used with MRI that give anatomical detail or indicate what the prostate looks like and whether there are nodules present on it.
According to Dr. Aiken, who is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, it also gives functional information that helps to differentiate between tumours that are high-grade or likely to cause death and those that are relatively indolent and can be left alone.
He noted that using varying parameters that give the information about the tumour tissue helps to determine whether it is high- or low-grade.
“We are able to selectively watch men in those cases where we don’t think there is anything significant’ like a rabid or aggressive tumor, and we are able to recommend biopsy for those men who have suspected high-grade lesions.” he explained.
Dr. Aiken pointed out that this technology is relatively new, adding that the trans-rectal ultra sound guided biopsy which has been used over the years is still being utilised.
The procedure is one where the prostate is sampled randomly and relatively blindly, whereas the MRI is able to pinpoint a targeted area that is likely to have a focus of aggressive or high-grade cancer.
Dr. Aiken said that medicine was approaching an era of personalised treatment and that despite this procedure not yet being fully developed, “we are getting to (a point) where we can take a cancer patient and individualise treatment based on the features and molecular biomarkers of the cancer, to selectively treat that patient in a particular way rather than treating everybody the same”.
Meanwhile, the CURA President is warning men against taking selenium and vitamin E supplements to prevent prostate cancer. He explained that in the past, the two supplements were recommended as a prostate cancer-prevention method, adding that new research has shown that these do more harm than good.
Dr. Aiken said it is recommended that men espouse eating a balanced diet, minimising their intake of saturated and animal fat, limiting their intake of dairy products and exercising regularly to keep their body weight down.
He pointed out that while obesity does not cause prostate cancer, men with the disease who are obese have worse outcomes.
September is observed globally as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
- Countries: Jamaica