A more precise way to search for prostate cancers

Categories: Cancer  /  News  /  Research  /  Surgery


For men who undergo a biopsy for prostate cancer, it may come as a surprise to learn that the tiny samples of tissue the doctor removes for testing are based on an educated guess — where in the prostate that cancer is most likely to be lurking.

For that reason, a standard biopsy can miss some prostate cancers.

“I would describe it like the game of Battleship,” said Dr. Michael Liss, an assistant professor of urology at UT Health San Antonio who practices at University Health System. “That’s kind of where you put the needle: A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2. The samples are taken from regions in the prostate like a grid. There’s no targeting of worrisome areas simply because they’re difficult to see with the standard ultrasound we use.”

A more precise method of prostate biopsy, called fusion-guided biopsy, is now available. And while it’s currently reserved for more complex cases at University Health System, Dr. Liss is heading research studies to determine if fusion-guided biopsy might be worthwhile for a much broader group of patients.

The fusion technique begins with an MRI — a test that uses a strong magnetic field to produce clear computer images inside the body, and can more precisely locate abnormal cells in the prostate.

The fusion technology allows the doctor to merge those downloaded MRI images with the live ultrasound images routinely used during prostate biopsies, creating a three-dimensional live image on a monitor. That image allows the doctor to see exactly where those suspicious cells are during the procedure, and place the biopsy needle accordingly.

University Health System recently acquired the technology at its Robert B. Green Campus. It is currently used for patients suspected of having prostate cancer, even though no cancer has been found after one or more standard biopsies.

“This tool allows me to be more accurate and more confident that we did not miss anything on their biopsy,” Dr. Liss said.

Two different research studies of fusion-guided biopsy are underway, Dr. Liss said. One study includes men who have opted to monitor their prostate cancer, rather than treat, and are due for another biopsy. The other is a study for men who have low PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, test scores, but other biomarkers that put them at high risk for prostate cancer.

For more information about these studies, call (210) 567-0046.


Leave a Reply

Featured Video

Upcoming Events

  • Thu
    11 a.m.-2 p.m.University Family Health Center - Southeast, 1055 Ada St.

    Second-floor conference room, University Family Health Center - Southeast. As the premier Level I Trauma Center for a 22-county area of South Texas, we're always in need of an adequate blood supply. Blood donors are needed throughout the year, with an even greater need during the summer months and holidays. We invite you to drop by our blood donor room to donate whole blood or platelets or visit one of our community blood drives. University Hospital Blood Donor Room hours: Monday - Thursday: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays. For more information, call 210-358-2812.

  • Fri
    11 a.m.-noonTexas Diabetes Institute, 701 S. Zarzamora St.

    Second-floor classroom. Topic: Quick and easy meals. Our monthly healthy cooking classes are taught by registered dietitians in the Texas Diabetes Institute's teaching kitchen. When you sign up for just $5, you'll receive a cooking demonstration, recipes to take home and food samples. The $5 fee should be paid at the Texas Diabetes Institute cashier's office prior to the start of the class. Call 358-7100 for information or to reserve a seat.