Sparing men pain and anxiety

Sparing men pain and anxiety

The use of mpMRI has transformed the way men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, for some men who do not have the disease, an mpMRI scan can still suggest there may be cancer, meaning these men have to undergo a biopsy that is ultimately unnecessary.

A team of researchers based at University College London looked to improve upon the current mpMRI, to make the images clearer and more accurate. The team tested a new type of scan called VERDICT and showed that this new type of scan was indeed more accurate and could reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies by a staggering 90%.  

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Professor Shonit Punwani
These results show that VERDICT could allow men to know, with confidence, that they do not have prostate cancer and do not need a biopsy.
Professor Shonit Punwani University College London
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John Aves, 81, from Wrexham, Wales, underwent two biopsies before being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. John had been getting up several times in the night to go the toilet for quite a while. He wasn't particularly concerned about his symptoms – he just put it down to 'old man's bladder'. But when he went to his GP for a UTI, his GP wanted to do some tests for prostate cancer.

John ended up having a transrectal biopsy which came back negative. His urologist was still certain he had prostate cancer, so he referred John for a template biopsy. John feels lucky he did because that led to his diagnosis. Fortunately, his cancer hadn’t spread and John is now cancer-free.

Having a biopsy is never the most pleasant experience, so research like this that could improve diagnosis and stop men like me having to undergo multiple or unnecessary procedures is hugely welcome.
John Aves, based in Wrexham

From research idea to access for all


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In partnership with Movember, we funded the team at University College London to run a study called INNOVATE. Part of this study was to test a new type of scan called VERDICT.


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Lab research

Over 300 men had a VERDICT scan as well as a standard mpMRI. The VERDICT scan is, in essence, like a new app for a phone, in that it can be ‘downloaded’ onto existing scanners.

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Clinical trial

At first, the clinical team assessed only the images from the standard mpMRI . If a man went on to have a biopsy based on the images from the standard mpMRI, the VERDICT images were then analysed to see if the clinical team would have made the same decision. This analysis showed that a staggering 9 out of 10 men would have avoided having a biopsy based on the VERDICT images.

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Approved for use

This is a massive leap forward for an exciting new test that could spare thousands of men each year unnecessary anxiety and pain. The next step is to test VERDICT on a national scale to ensure the reductions in unnecessary biopsies can be translated across the country.  

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Access for all

VERDICT is likely to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies for men, making mpMRI more accurate. Reducing the number of biopsies not only spares men anxiety and pain but also saves the NHS time and money.


What's next?

We've continued to fund research into better diagnosis for men with prostate cancer. This includes projects using imaging to detect advanced prostate cancer, developing a urine test men can do at home and investigating the role of artificial intelligence to improve MRI quality.

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With your help we can beat prostate cancer, together

While we've made great progress, there's still a long way to go. You can get involved to help us increase the number of men whose cancer is caught while it's still curable.

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