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New technology being used to find aggressive prostate cancer in Tampa Bay

BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – A local urologist and oncologist team are working together to find more aggressive, and potentially more fatal, cases of prostate cancer in men.

Doctor Gary Ronay practices at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology in Brandon. He has been using a new combination of MRI and ultrasound technology for the past few months to help the men who come through his office.

The initial MRI images can be used right on top of the ultrasound test as it happens, where Dr. Ronay can determine places of worry on a patient’s prostate that a normal ultrasound may not have initially picked up.

“In other words, it’s a probe in the gentleman’s rectum, very gently, to get a picture of the prostate using soundwaves. And we’re able to combined that with the MRI images that were taken prior to the ultrasound biopsy. The major advantage of that is we’re able to detect prostate cancer much more accurately,” Dr. Ronay explained.

According to Dr. Ronay, the MRI portion of the screening is good for detecting prostate cancer that is more aggressive.

“We’re not interested in the small, slow-growing cancers. A lot of work has been done and shown that small amounts of slow-growing prostate cancer oftentimes do not have to be treated, we can just keep an eye on the patient,” he said. “It’s a tremendous breakthrough. It’s called ‘active surveillance.’ But this this technology, we’re able to identify those cancers that actually kill patients.”

He would not recommend this type of screening for everyone, saying the technology is quite expensive and must be read by an experienced radiologist who has experience with prostate MRIs using these new machines.

The doctor said prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, second only to skin cancer. When the cancer moves outside of the organ and into the lymph nodes and bones, a patient’s survival rate over five years hangs at 30%.

There is good news. Dr. Ronay said this type of cancer is 95% curable when caught early on.

He said white men should begin screenings at 50 years old and Black men at 40 to 45 years old. Those with family history may need to start prostate screenings earlier on.

Though many are still wary of heading to the doctor’s office due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, D. Ronay’s advice for patients of all ages and genders is to continue to get their annual check-ups, tests and screenings.

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