Mātai News

Prostate clinical pathway

The Gisborne Herald, 24 March 2023

Clinical partnership adopts MRI-guided, best-practice method to perform prostate biopsies

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in Aotearoa and Tairāwhiti has adopted a global best-practice method to perform prostate biopsies.

A prostate biopsy is a procedure to remove samples of suspicious tissue from a man’s prostate. The tissue is then looked at under a microscope to check for cancer.


Through a new clinical partnership between Te Whatu Ora and Mātai Medical Research Institute, since November last year more than 21 Tairāwhiti men have had MRI-guided, transperineal, prostate biopsies under local anaesthesia in an outpatient setting.


Dr Daniel Cornfeld, head of radiology at Te Whatu Ora in Tairāwhiti and Mātai Clinical Lead, said Tairāwhiti was the first site in Australasia to use this specific Koelis Trinity system technology to perform the procedure in an outpatient environment.


“The new technology will provide an equitable service which will uplift prostate outcomes for our local men, especially Māori and men living rurally,” Dr Cornfeld said.


“Our aim now is to educate men and their doctors about this service to get more men to come forward for prostate cancer testing.”


The collaboration is funded by the Hugh Green Foundation and Prostate Foundation of New Zealand.


Previously, prostate biopsies in Tairāwhiti were through the rectum (transrectal) and could be guided only using a “cognitive” approach, meaning that the operator would aim for the suspicious area of the prostate using their skill in mentally matching the ultrasound and MRI images.


Dr Cornfeld said the new technology had three main advantages.


“We use advanced computer algorithms to aim the biopsy to the areas of the prostate that appeared suspicious on the MRI. This results in increased accuracy,” he said.


“In addition, because the needle goes through the skin and not through the rectum, there is a much lower risk of infection and also we save time and resources because we aren’t using the operating theatres.”


Dr Cornfeld said getting to this point had been a long journey and he expressed his gratitude for the support he has received.


“Thank you to Mātai Medical Research Institute for believing in my vision for an MRI prior to targeted biopsy pathway for the diagnosis of prostate cancer in Tairāwhiti.


Dr Cornfeld also thanked the Hugh Green Foundation for supplying funding to purchase the technology required to perform these biopsies, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand for funding 200 prostate scans on the 3T scanner at Mātai.


“Thanks also to KOELIS, Innologic, GE Healthcare, Te Whatu Ora, and Michael Rice.”


Michael Rice, consultant urologist based at Auckland City Hospital and the resident visiting urologist to Te Whatu Ora in Tairāwhiti, said it was a great step for Tairāwhiti and urology services in advancing the diagnostic pathway for men with prostate cancer.


“MRI scanning at Mātai is an integral part of the diagnostic pathway, and in conjunction with the KOELIS technology will result in a high-quality service with a new standard that will improve the outcomes of men with prostate cancer in Tairāwhiti,” he said.


Lynsey Bartlett, Te Whatu Ora interim lead for hospital and specialist services in Tairāwhiti, congratulated the huge team who have brought this project to fruition.


“Approaches such as this that result in early diagnosis and treatment of conditions are a benefit to the people of Tairāwhiti,” she said.


• Men aged 50 and over should discuss prostate testing with their doctor.


• Men with a known family history of prostate cancer should begin the discussion at 40 years of age, as they may be at higher risk.


Often, prostate cancer doesn’t cause symptoms, especially in the early stages.


It can remain undetected for some time and still not cause symptoms. Many of these symptoms are common in men as they age. They may not mean prostate cancer but do warrant a follow-up with your doctor.


If there are symptoms, they may include:

• Feeling the frequent or sudden need to urinate, especially at night;

• Finding it difficult to urinate (e.g. trouble starting or not being able to urinate when the feeling is there).