New technology is helping improve early detection of prostate cancer – the most common cancer among South African men, with one in 19 at risk at developing it in their lifetime.

According to the Cancer Association of SA (CANSA), prostate cancer is on the rise with main risk factors being age, ethnicity, genetics, obesity and poor diet. The prostate is a small gland within the reproductive system — located just below the bladder — which secretes fluid to nourish sperm.

Prostate cancer may be effectively treated — particularly if detected early through regular consented screening by men over 45 — according to The Urology Hospital, Pretoria.

Tech to the rescue

And, research shows that new technology in the form of a fusion guided biopsy, which combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with ultrasound, is improving detection, allowing earlier intervention. The technology fuses detailed MRI scans with live, real-time ultrasound images, providing a better indication of the location of potential tumours.

Urologist, Dr Laurie Blake, says “educated risk-adapted screening” (consented screening) is vital, particularly if there is a family history of prostate cancer or if men experience difficulty urinating, a constantly full bladder or urgency to pass water frequently.

Treatment options

“Should a screen such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, rectal examinations and blood tests raise suspicions, it could be followed by a fusion guided biopsy to detect the location and stage of the cancer. Once the cancer is confirmed there are various treatment options,” added Blake.

The most common is a prostatectomy (removal of part or all of the prostate) through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery – both state-of-the-art procedures.

The Urology Hospital offers this robotic surgery technology combined with the expertise of 23 urologists under one roof. It was the first hospital in SA to acquire a robotic surgical system and has one of only a few 3D laparoscopic surgical units in the country.