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The ReIMAGINE Study will test combining MRI with other cutting-edge diagnostic technologies to transform prostate cancer diagnosis

The ReIMAGINE study will test for the first time if MRI scans can be used for population screening to detect prostate cancer more accurately. The current prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is considered too unreliable for population screening, and the scientists will study if MRI could be used to screen men to pick up cancers earlier and more reliably, and help save lives.

They will also study whether, combined with cutting-edge techniques such as genomics and machine learning, MRI scans can replace prostate biopsies. Prostate cancer patients advising the study say they are particularly excited by the prospect of large reduction in biopsies, as they have serious side effects in the majority of patients, which include pain, bleeding, infections leading to sepsis, and urine retention.

Replacing biopsies with precision diagnosis

The team aims to recruit 1,000 men with medium to high risk cancers to find out if MRI can be combined with other high-tech diagnostic tests to predict cancer progression. The ultimate aim is to develop tests that are better than biopsies for targeting the right cancer treatment to the right person (including determining if they don’t need treatment).

Could MRI give us the first reliable population screening for prostate cancer?

In this study, the researchers will also be taking the MRI test out into the community for the first time to see how well it detects prostate abnormalities in 300 men aged 60 to 75 who have never had a PSA test.

Professor Emberton said: “We will be testing if the MRI can be used for screening men and we hope that it will detect serious cancers earlier that are currently missed. If we can detect cancers earlier and more reliably with a non-invasive test, this could help to improve the survival rates to prostate cancer, which kills about 11,800 men in the UK annually.

MRI scanning for prostate cancer could also help a quarter of a million men, maybe up to half a million men a year, to avoid an unnecessary biopsy if the MRI is negative. The majority of men will be reassured they don’t have prostate cancer and importantly they may be able to avoid the harms of a biopsy, plus healthcare systems will be able to avoid the costs. MRI is the perfect tool because it’s relatively cheap, widely available and reliable.”

Through working with patients and advocacy groups, ReIMAGINE have developed several Work Strands (WS) that will allow us to realise our aims; WS1, WS2, WS3, WS4, WS5, WS6 and WS7.

This study is being launched with funding of £4.1m from the Medical Research Council and £1m from Cancer Research UK, as part of the MRC's Stratified Medicine Initiative. 

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