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The role of magnetic resonance imaging in prostate cancer

Clare M C Tempany, MD
Peter Carroll, MD, MPH
Michael S Leapman, MD
Section Editors
Jerome P Richie, MD, FACS
Nicholas Vogelzang, MD
W Robert Lee, MD, MS, MEd
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 161,000 men in the United States in 2017 and account for approximately 26,700 deaths [1]. Worldwide, prostate cancer will account for over 1,600,000 cases and 366,000 deaths annually [2].

Although widespread use of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening of healthy men has resulted in decreases in cancer-related mortality, this benefit has been accompanied by increased detection and treatment of many cancers bearing low metastatic potential [3]. (See "Screening for prostate cancer", section on 'Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)'.)

A priority in the management of the disease is the ability to accurately assess the presence of clinically significant lesions, the extent of disease at diagnosis, and to characterize the risk of future progression, thereby avoiding unnecessary treatment in men at low risk of progression.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers increasingly reliable visualization of potentially significant prostate cancers and thus has shown advantages as a means by which to better select patients for biopsy and identify lesions for biopsy. MRI also provides information for staging the tumor extent and monitoring treatment response.

The technology of prostate MRI, the new prostate imaging reporting and data system (PI-RADS), and its current and potential clinical applications are reviewed in this topic.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 13, 2017.
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