Canadian first: New technology in Calgary will better detect prostate cancer

WATCH: It has revolutionized the way prostate cancer is diagnosed. Doctors in Calgary are the first in Canada to use special technology, leading to early detection and treatment. Bindu Suri has more on how it's helping patients get the life-saving treatment they need.

It’s a conversation you hope you never have to have with your doctor. Bob Dick knew there was a possibility he could have prostate cancer.

“My biopsy came back negative, my PSA tests continued to be high,” he said.

“I just continued to live my life as if I didn’t have cancer because that’s what the test showed.”

After two negative biopsies, Bob still didn’t know if he had cancer.

READ MORE: Cancer to kill nearly 10 million people worldwide in 2018: WHO

Abdominal Radiologist, Dr. Summit Sawhney, said detecting prostate cancer has never been a very precise process.

“The challenge that we are faced with doing the prostate biopsies… What we see on the MRI we can’t actually, most of the time, can’t actually see on the ultrasound,” Sawhney said.

“You’re left with targeting something that you can’t actually see.”

However, that is now changing for patients in Calgary with the UroNav Fusion Biopsy System, helping doctors better detect prostate cancer.

Calgary is the first city in Canada to have the technology installed, which can help lead to early detection.

READ MORE: Global reporter John Sexsmith on why he decided to share prostate cancer diagnosis

“It takes the MRI that the patient had — where we see an abnormality that looks like cancer — and fuses it with the ultrasound that we obtained while we’re doing the biopsy,” Sawhney explained.

“It allows us to precisely target that area. That leads to early detection of cancer and earlier treatment of patients.”

The UroNav Fusion technology costs $420,000 and there are currently 350 being used across the U.S.

A partnership between EFW Radiology and the Prostate Cancer Centre brought it to Calgary.

“A lot of this machinery is paid for out of pocket. It’s very challenging to get public funding for this,” Sawhney said.

READ MORE: New research finds prostate screening test saves lives, but experts still don’t recommend it

Pam Heard, the executive director with the Prostate Cancer Centre, didn’t hesitate to help.

“EFW has partnered with us at a time when it was really hard to find radiologists to do the work of one-stop shopping for our men,” Heard said.

“When Summit came to me and asked me about bringing in new technology, I said, ‘absolutely.'”

Bob was the first patient to undergo a biopsy using the new software. It was his third biopsy and confirmed what doctors had suspected. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Bob sees it as a blessing — being able to receive the treatment he needs.

READ MORE: Could there soon be a better way to protect against prostate cancer?

“It’s disappointing at best to have a diagnosis of cancer of any kind, but it does allow you to get the treatment going.”

Bob is about halfway through treatment and holds on to hope through this difficult but promising journey.

Watch below: For years, Global Edmonton sports reporter John Sexsmith has been quietly battling prostate cancer. Now, for Movember, he’s going public to shine a spotlight on the disease. Su-Ling Goh has the story.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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