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Prostate Cancer Detection Via Biopsy Varies by Operator

Study finds no learning curve, nor evidence that volume of procedures improves detection rate

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The detection rate for prostate cancer by transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsies varies by operator performing the procedure, but it is not clear what factors lead to the difference, according to a study in the December issue of The Journal of Urology.

Nathan Lawrentschuk, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues analyzed data on 4,724 biopsies performed by four uroradiologists at the same center to determine if there were significant interoperator differences in cancer detection.

The researchers found that, overall, the operators detected prostate cancer in 49.3 percent of patients. The number of procedures performed by operator ranged from 187 to 3,509, with a detection rate ranging from of 43.8 to 52.4 percent. Though the operator was a significant multivariate predictor of cancer detection, the researchers could discern no learning curve, and biopsy rates were consistent for the entire series.

"Significant differences in prostate cancer detection exist among operators who perform transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsy even in the same setting. The volume of previously performed transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsies does not appear to influence the positive prostate cancer detection rate, nor could a learning curve be identified. Differences in prostate cancer detection among operators are likely related to unknown differences in expertise or technique. Further research is needed," the authors write.

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