THE leading prostate cancer charity in the country has welcomed the publication of updated guidance by a public health body.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published its final updated guidelines for prostate cancer diagnosis and management on Thursday, May 9. They include recommendations that men with suspected prostate cancer should be offered an multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) scan before a biopsy and that an mpMRI scan should be offered to men being monitored through active surveillance, who have not had an MRI previously.

Now that the updated guidelines are formally published, Welsh Health Boards have the green light to put their plans into practice and make this breakthrough diagnostic technique available to men across Wales.

Andrew Seggie, Change Delivery Senior Officer at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Now that the NICE guidelines have been finalised, men across Wales are a step closer to getting access to a consistent, high quality mpMRI scan before a biopsy.

"We know that Welsh Health Boards have been working behind the scenes to overcome the challenges of adopting pre-biopsy mpMRI.

"This breakthrough diagnostic technique should now be made available in all parts of Wales in the near future, ending the current variation in access that has resulted in some men paying privately for scans.

"We want all men with suspected prostate cancer to have the chance of a more accurate, and often less invasive, diagnosis that an mpMRI scan before a biopsy can provide. We’ll be doing everything we can to support Health Boards make this a reality.”

In January 2017, the a trial first proved that giving men with suspected prostate cancer a mpMRI before a biopsy could radically boost detection of prostate cancer. It also showed that it can reduce the number of men having unnecessary and invasive biopsies by a quarter (27%) because the scan is more likely to pick up cancers which could cause men harm and need further tests.

Since then, Prostate Cancer UK has been working with the NHS in all parts of the UK and supporting the delivery of the service transformation needed to make these scans available to a consistently high standard. According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request conducted by Prostate Cancer UK in 2018, only three out of seven Welsh Health Boards are providing mpMRI before biopsy. Out of those three, only two, Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf, are providing mpMRI to a high enough standard to safely rule men out of biopsy.

This represents no change since the Boards last responded to an FOI in Autumn 2016.

In March 2019 the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, reiterated during a Welsh Assembly debate on the issue, that when NICE recommends pre-biopsy mpMRI, then he expects all health boards to amend their pathways accordingly.