The annual Winter Days of the Finnish Association of Urology, Urologian Talvipäivät 2017, was held in February at Lappia House in Rovaniemi. This year the main focus of the event was on reconstructive surgery. Among other presentation topics, diagnostics and recent study results on new treatment methods of prostate cancer were discussed. I picked a few of the most interesting findings from my notebook to share with you.
Biomarker tests to replace biopsy in the future?
The demand for more reliable prostate cancer diagnostics has been undergoing for years. Another issue here is to reduce the collection of biopsy samples which are unpleasant for the patients and include a risk of infection.
Biomarker test requires only a simple blood sample for laboratory analysis. Thus, it would be highly beneficial for patients and doctors. Many new biomarker tests are still under development and validation phase. The commercial availability is therefore limited. More evidence on the reliability is needed before wider clinical use.
Imaging methods, especially those based on MRI, also have a lot of potential in prostate cancer diagnostics. Multiparametric MRI examination can also be used to exclude the existence of cancer before the surgical operation of prostatic hyperplasia. However, also the imaging methods require more research regarding the reliability and applicability for routine use.
HDR-Brachytherapy – offering new treatment options for prostate cancer patients
High dose radiation (HDR) -Brachytherapy is currently used in two cancer clinics in Finland for the treatment of local prostate cancer and has replaced the low -dose radiation brachytherapy which was used earlier. According to the results published in the Winter Days of Finnish Urologists, HDR- brachytherapy seems to be a safe and efficient treatment option for patients with low-risk localized prostate cancer.
In another study, HDR-Brachytherapy was combined to the traditional radiation therapy. The results indicate that the combination of these two therapies can be a good treatment option for aggressive or locally advanced prostate cancer.
Common objective: National deployment of EPIC-26 questionnaire
The common objective of the Finnish urologists is to localize and validate the EPIC-26 symptom questionnaire, targeted to prostate cancer patients. After this, the aim is to deploy the questionnaire in Finland. This is considered highly necessary because prostate cancer treatments often cause long-term adverse effects and on the other hand, the disease proceeds slowly. EPIC-26 is recommended by International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), and adapting it makes the comparison of treatment outcomes between Finnish and foreign centers possible.
To efficiently deploy EPIC-26 questionnaire in the future, it’s also important to consider how to capture and analyse the patient-reported data. Traditionally the information has been collected via paper questionnaires, which requires manual work of nursing staff. By integrating modern digital applications to hospital’s other information systems, data can be collected automatically and effortlessly. We believe this is the future of patient-reported outcome follow-up.
Written by Markku Pohjola, Senior Advisor of NetmediTags: digital health, Patient-Reported Outcomes, prostate cancer, urology