Targeted Biopsy Marks Major Advance in Prostate Cancer Research

Doctors now can see what they're looking for, rather than taking random samples

One prostate needle biopsy is unpleasant enough.

But Don Buck has had two of them.

He did it because his PSA levels, which can indicate prostate cancer, had shot up dramatically – from 2 to 13.

In the traditional procedure, doctors insert a needle into the prostate, take random tissue samples, then send those to the lab to see if there is cancer.

But nothing turned up for Buck.

"At that point I was thinking, I’m doing okay," Buck said. "I’m a very healthy guy, the biopsies are coming back negative. I thought, well, perhaps there’s something wrong with the PSA test."

Then, his wife convinced him to go to UCLA Medical Center to get another biopsy -- a new type of biopsy that is targeted, not blind, according to UCLA Urologist Leonard Marks.

"Rather than doing a systematic blind biopsy of the prostate, we can now do targeted biopsy and do a direct assessment of the tumor. Previously this was impossible," Marks said.

First, patients get an MRI. New sophisticated imaging technology can now pinpoint the subtle differences between normal and cancerous tissue.

Then, those MRI images are superimposed over the live images of the prostate, when the doctor does the biopsy, so he now can see where the target is on the ultrasound, and aim for it.

"What this allows us to do is to put the needle directly into the tumor. And to evaluate the size of the tumor and the severity of the tumor," Marks said.

The targeted biopsy found invasive cancer in Buck’s prostate. The good news is – it was caught early. If he had just let it go, it could have spread.

“I believe they’re going to take care of this surgery.. as a result of this I believe I’m going to have a long life," Buck said.

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