June 12 (UPI) -- Doctors have traditionally relied on ultrasounds to examine men for prostate cancer, but the method can't pinpoint specific tumors, a new study says.
When researchers combined this traditional method with MRIs to take biopsies, they found cancer up to 33 percent more of the time compared with one method alone, according to research published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.
The ultrasound allows doctors to see the whole prostate to take a tissue sample to biopsy. The MRI, on the other hand, gives doctors the chance to zero in on a particular lesion in the prostate and gather tissue from that location.
"Our research suggests that the different biopsy methods identify different tumors," study author Leonard Marks, a researcher of urology at UCLA, said in a news release. "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 included 300 men, including 248 with prostate lesions visible using MRI. About 70 percent of cancer in those men was found using the combination method.
While the remaining 52 men had no visible lesions, the researchers still found cancer in 15 percent of them using the traditional ultrasound test. The study shows the MRI and ultrasound exams complement each other.
"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?"