An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to build up detailed pictures of the inside of the body. A specialised type of MRI called mpMRI (multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging) is used to help find prostate cancer. It combines the results of three MRI images to provide a more detailed image.
Your doctor may suggest you have an MRI to help work out if a biopsy is needed or to guide the biopsy needle to a specific area of the prostate. This scan can also be used to show if the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas.
Before the scan, let your medical team know if you have a pacemaker or any other metallic object in your body. If you do, you may not be able to have an MRI scan as the magnet can interfere with some pacemakers. Newer pacemakers are often MRI-compatible.
Before having scans, tell the doctor if you have any allergies or have had a reaction to contrast (dye) during previous scans. You should also let them know if you have diabetes or kidney disease.
Having an MRI
Sometimes a dye (known as contrast) is injected into a vein before the scan to help make the pictures clearer. You will lie on an examination table that slides into the scanner, a large metal cylinder open at both ends. The person doing the scan will place you in a position that will allow you to stay still and limit movement during the scan.
The scanner makes loud repetitive sounds during the scan. The scan is painless but the noisy and narrow MRI machine makes some people feel anxious or claustrophobic. If you think you could become distressed, mention it beforehand to your medical team.
You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax, or you might be able to bring someone into the room with you for support. You will usually be offered earplugs or headphones to listen to music. The MRI scan may take around 30 minutes.
Medicare rebates for MRI scans to detect prostate cancer are only available if the MRI is ordered by a specialist and you meet certain conditions. You may have to also pay a gap fee. Ask your doctor or imaging centre what you will have to pay.
Podcast: Tests and Cancer
A/Prof Ian Vela, Urologic Oncologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland University of Technology, and Urocology, QLD; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and A/Prof Surgery, The University of Adelaide, SA; Peter Greaves, Consumer; Graham Henry, Consumer; Clin Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and Notre Dame University Australia, WA; Henry McGregor, Men’s Health Physiotherapist, Adelaide Men’s Health Physio, SA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Dr Tom Shakespeare, Director, Radiation Oncology, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore Public Hospitals, NSW; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Daffodil Centre, Cancer Council NSW; Allison Turner, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCFA), Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Maria Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council QLD; Michael Walkden, Consumer; Prof Scott Williams, Radiation Oncology Lead, Urology Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Professor of Oncology, Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne, VIC.
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