A combination method that displays the location of tumors in the prostate gland has been shown to increase the rate of prostate cancer detection.

Worldwide, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound (US) are the two main imaging methods used to detect prostate cancer. US has poor tissue resolution, and because of this is generally not used clinically.

On the other hand, prostate MRI has better soft tissue resolution than ultrasound. MRI also allows doctors to see specific lesions in the prostate and only take tissue samples from those spots.

A multidisciplinary team of physicians from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has found a new method that includes using a biopsy guided by MRI together with the traditional method to increase the rate of prostate cancer detection.

A strategy combining both sampling methods led to the detection of up to 33 percent more cancers than standard methods, according to a three-year study published in JAMA Surgery. The findings might help lead to an important change in how prostate biopsies are performed said study senior author Dr. Leonard Marks.

"Our research suggests that the different biopsy methods identify different tumors," said Marks, who holds the Jean B. deKernion Chair in the department of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"To maximize our ability to identify prostate cancer, we need to take advantage of all the information we can. Our cancer detection rate, while using different methods in tandem, surpasses that from using either method alone. In this case, one plus one equals three."

The study, which is the first to directly compare the different biopsy sampling methods in the same group of men, established that lesion-targeted and systematic sampling are both required to maximize the accuracy of prostate biopsy.

"Improving our ability to see the location of cancer in the prostate in real time opens up the door for treatment innovations," Marks said.

"If we can identify the location of tumors and put biopsy needles directly into them, why not find a way to destroy the tumor on the spot?"

He said men being assessed for prostate cancer should first receive an MRI before biopsy. If a lesion is detected by the MRI, doctors should take systematic and targeted biopsies together to attain the best chance at finding cancer.

Even if the MRI is negative for lesions, men at risk (including those with elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, a prostate nodule, or family history) should still receive a traditional, systematic biopsy.