- Senior Lead: Prof Willie Hamilton
- Project Lead: Dr Sam Merriel
- Others involved: Dr Fiona Walter, Prof Anne Spencer and Prof Hashim Ahmed (Imperial College London)
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men worldwide, and whilst many men can live for years after being diagnosed, it still causes a significant number of deaths. Diagnosing prostate cancer at an early stage is important to reduce a man’s risk of dying from the disease, but tests currently used to diagnose prostate cancer are sometimes inaccurate and can cause significant side effects for patients.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the pelvis could potentially be used to investigate men with symptoms that might indicate they have prostate cancer. Recent studies have suggested that MRI scans are accurate enough to decide whether or not such men would need to undergo a procedure to take a biopsy of the prostate to confirm they have cancer. These studies have all been conducted with men who have been referred to hospital, and it is not yet known what impact these MRI scans could have for patients in primary care.
This PhD project will explore a number of areas relating to whether it would be safe, acceptable, and cost effective for GPs to order MRI scans for men with symptoms suggesting a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer. We will examine the evidence that already exists relating to the cost effectiveness and patient outcomes of MRI scanning for men with possible prostate cancer. We will survey and interview healthcare professionals and patients regarding their knowledge and attitudes towards using MRI scans to diagnose prostate cancer. We will also use data from recent trials of MRI scans in prostate cancer and NHS costing data to estimate whether using MRI scans in primary care would be cost-effective. Based on the studies outlined above, we will propose new possible pathways for diagnosing prostate cancer that include MRI scans.