Is There An Alternative to PSA+Biopsy to Screen for Prostate Cancer? Yes, it’s MRI. Here Are The Facts.

As the second leading form of cancer among U.S. men, early prostate cancer detection can save lives. The problem is, all too often men postpone getting screened either because of inconvenience, intrusion, or fear of the unknown. On this page we discuss two options for prostate cancer screening: the traditional PSA blood test followed by biopsy, and the new MRI prostate scan.

How does a PSA blood test diagnose prostate cancer?

For decades, doctors and their patients have relied on the PSA blood test to detect prostate cancer. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which shows up in a man’s blood when his prostate is enlarged.

A positive PSA result usually requires a follow-up prostate biopsy, wherein a thick needle is inserted through the rectum wall to remove 10 to 12 pieces of tissue for pathological diagnosis.

What are the drawbacks of a PSA blood test + biopsy?

Unfortunately, the PSA blood test method isn’t foolproof. An elevated PSA level can also indicate non-cancerous medical conditions, including general body inflammation, prostatitis (swelling of the prostate gland), or BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate gland enlargement that generally occurs in older men).The point? Inaccurate PSA tests often lead to over-diagnosis and unnecessary biopsies. The incidence of false positive results with PSA+biopsy is 15%1.

More disturbing, even with tissue samples, there’s the potential for missed diagnoses. If the probe isn’t done in the exact spot with cancer cells, the cancer can be missed. It’s a scattershot approach that’s open to inaccuracies.

Plus, the follow-up biopsy can be painful and have annoying side effects, such as rectal bleeding, blood in semen or urine, infection, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty urinating2 The process itself requires anesthesia, which can mean more time taken away from work.


How does an MRI scan detect prostate cancer?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. This imaging technology uses harmless, powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed internal pictures of organs and tissues. It’s used extensively to diagnose conditions within the pelvis, abdomen, and chest. The radio waves cause the atoms in the body to produce very faint signals that are then used to create cross-sectional images of the different types of tissue in the body. Many people compare the orientation of these images to looking at slices of bread. 

Unlike a biopsy, an MRI gives a complete picture of the organ. It can find abnormalities and potential tumors anywhere in the tissue. It’s also completely safe, comfortable and pain-free.

What are the advantages of MRI to diagnose prostate cancer?

An MRI gives doctors a more comprehensive, and therefore more accurate, method for detecting prostate cancer. 27 percent fewer patients get an unnecessary biopsy when MRI is used prior to deciding whether a prostate biopsy is necessary. Not only that, but an MRI is painless, doesn’t require anesthesia, and there are no unpleasant side effects to contend with. The scanis quick. It only takes 30 minutes (though you should allow 1 hour for your appointment), and once you’re done that’s it—you’re free to continue with your day.

Should the MRI detect something suspicious, your doctor will advise you to have a biopsy. But here’s comforting news: a recent study concluded that when prostate biopsies are guided by an MRI scan, 18% more clinically significant cancer might be detected3

Are MRI scans safe?

Yes, MRI scans are safe and pain-free. Plus, unlike other medical imaging procedures such as CT (CAT scan) or X-ray, an MRI scan doesn’t expose you to harmful radiation. If you have any metallic implants, you will have to consult with our medical team and imaging partners to ensure they are MRI-safe. The FDA’s website provides a comprehensive overview of MRI’s benefits & risk 4.

Where can I get screened for prostate cancer using MRI?

Ezra, a new healthcare technology company, is bringing together experts in radiology,urology, and artificial intelligence to make MRI scans the new standard for prostate cancer detection. Ezra is partnering with MRI imaging facilities across the U.S., starting with New York City, home to some of the world’s leading authorities on prostate cancer.

For our launch, Ezra has partnered with Lenox Hill Radiology, one of the finest imaging facilities in NYC. The state-of-the-art medical imaging facility is located at 61 East 77th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. More locations will be added throughout the year. We hand-pick each of our Ezra partners to make sure your MRI images are of the highest quality and that your experience is comfortable and informative.

To stay up-to-date on when a Ezra facility will be opening in your area, please sign up on the website.

And for more information about MRI prostate cancer screening and what we do, visit us  at

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