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St. Luke’s Providing More Sophisticated Prostate Imaging with MRI Technology
June 14, 2018

In the past, men over the age of 55, especially those with elevated PSAs, a blood marker for prostate cancer, would have to rely on a combination of blood tests and biopsies to monitor for early or recurrent signs of prostate cancer. But St. Luke’s University Health Network patients now benefit from a multiparametric MRI, which gives physicians detailed anatomical and functional information about the prostate, including location, size, shape of any tumors and whether or not the cancer has spread outside the walls of the prostate.

“Prostate cancer is not only the most common cancer in men, it’s also highly curable when detected early,” explains Zachariah Goldsmith, MD, PhD, urologist, St. Luke’s Center for Urology. “In fact, it’s one of the most curable internal cancers, but it’s also asymptomatic so screening is our best chance of detection and cure. This MRI technology provides doctors with detailed, state-of- the-art prostate imaging to diagnose and manage prostate cancer to ensure the best possible outcome.”

The multiparametric MRI helps to evaluate and follow men who have normal biopsies but elevated PSAs, and those who have low-grade, slow growing prostate cancer that is commonly treated through active surveillance. “In some prostate cancer cases, men do not need to undergo treatment because they have a slower growing tumor that could be treated conservatively,” continues Dr. Goldsmith. “This multiparametric MRI is an integral part of that active surveillance. With the information we can gather from the MRI, we can cater treatment to specific cases and give each patient individualized care.”

Before this technology became available, doctors did not have the accuracy to image the inside of the prostate. Researchers have experimented with MRI of the prostate since the 1980s, but recent technological advancements and the development of specific imaging techniques have allowed MRI to emerge as the gold standard to effectively visualize the prostate gland, aiding in prostate cancer surveillance and detection.

“MRI of the prostate has now evolved to a point where it is significantly improved in its ability to detect and help stratify risk for underlying prostate cancer,” says Laurie Sebastiano, MD, St. Luke’s diagnostic radiologist. “It now plays an important role in management of patients on active surveillance who are at increased risk for prostate cancer.” In addition to detecting small, but clinically significant prostate cancer that may otherwise go undetected, another benefit is that the new MRI reduces the frequency of prostate biopsies.

The multiparametric MRI is administered in the same way as a traditional MRI. It is currently available at St. Luke’s advanced MRI units, including those at Bethlehem, Anderson, Monroe and Warren campuses.

Dr. Goldsmith re-emphasizes that because prostate cancer is asymptomatic, screening is critical. “Screening via blood test and rectal exams should start at age 55 and much sooner if the patient has risk factors like family history or if the patient is of African descent,” continues Dr. Goldsmith. “And because of the sophisticated imaging we can get with the multiparametric MRI, we can make treatment even more customizable, fitting the patient's specific case and situation.”

Media Contact:

Brenda Hageter, Media Relations, (484)-526-3051, Brenda.hageter@sluhn.org


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of 14,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and over 315 outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue of $1.9 billion, the network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is a major teaching hospital – the only one in the Greater Lehigh Valley.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 27 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 211 residents.  St. Luke’s is the only health care network in central-eastern Pennsylvania to earn Medicare’s five-star rating (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  Repeatedly, including 2018, St. Luke’s has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations from IBM Watson Health (formerly Truven Health Analytics).  St. Luke’s, utilizing the EPIC electronic medical record (EMR) system, is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.