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UCL study suggests changes to improve MRI scans for prostate cancer

The research aims to make MRIs more available to men and improve treatment decisions.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) have identified simple ways to improve the quality of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for prostate cancer screening.

The research aims to help make MRIs more available to all eligible men and to allow clinicians to rule out more cancer cases, identify cancer more reliably and make better treatment decisions.

Developed as part of the UCL-led PRECISION study in 2018, prostate imaging quality (PI-QUAL) is the first standardised scoring system that evaluates image quality using a five-point scale.

During the first phase of the latest GLIMPSE study, UCL researchers analysed approximately 355 MRI scans from 41 medical centres across 18 countries and found that only 32% achieved the highest PI-QUAL score of five.

After providing feedback to the centres to improve the quality of their MRI scans, 36 centres from 17 countries resubmitted and scans achieving a PI-QUAL score of five increased to 97%.

When ruling out cancer using MRI scans alone, high PI-QUAL scores are essential.

Results from this study will be passed on to the PRIME trial to assess whether a shorter, cheaper and less invasive MRI scan could become the new standard of care.

If successful, it could change clinical practice by requiring less clinical staff, being less invasive, and reducing the time needed to perform an MRI from 30 minutes to 20 minutes.

Dr Alexander Ng, UCL Division of Medicine and first author of the study, said the findings have “provided a glimpse into the international quality of MRI scanners and found that only a third of scanners were of optimal diagnostic quality”.

He added that “the quality of MRI scans can be significantly improved by following a few simple recommendations” and could “see a big difference [in] prostate cancer detection for very little effort and cost”.