News in brief: Oncologist bids to be Liberal MP; PET/CT less accurate than MRI at detecting prostate cancer; 3 Australian medical schools among best in world


Oncologist bids to be Liberal MP

Melbourne oncologist and Guardian columnist Dr Ranjana Srivastava has been pipped in a preselection contest to represent the Coalition opposition in the upper house of the Victorian state parliament.

Dr Srivastava was one of the nominees for two upper house positions in the Legislative Council and had the backing of outgoing member Bruce Atkinson in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

However she lost to out to a challenge from Nick McGowan, who is reported to be a close friend of the Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy.

The other nominee for the second position in that region was Gladys Liu, former Federal member for Chisholm, who lost her seat to Labor at the 2022 election.

Dr Srivastava was previously reported to have stood for selection for the Victorian Federal seat of Casey.


PET/CT less accurate than MRI at detecting prostate cancer

MRI scans can detect prostate cancer more accurately than the newer, prostate-specific -PSMA PET/CT scanning technique, a team of researchers in Australia and New Zealand has found.

Study investigator Associate Professor Lih-Ming Wong, Consultant Uro-oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, presented results from the PEDAL trial at the European Association of Urology’s annual congress (EAU22), in Amsterdam.

The trial recruited 240 patients across five hospital groups who were at risk of prostate cancer. Every patient was given both an MRI scan and a PSMA PET/CT scan. If imaging suggested the presence of prostate cancer, a biopsy was performed by the patient’s urologist.

The MRI scans picked up abnormalities in 141 patients, while the PSMA PET/CT scans picked up abnormalities in 198 patients. A total of 181 patients (75%) underwent a prostate biopsy, and subsequently 82 of those patients were found to have clinically significant prostate cancer.

The researchers concluded that MRI scans were significantly more accurate at detecting any grade of prostate cancer than the PSMA PET scans (0.75% for MRI vs 0.62% for PSMA PET). However it also showed that PSMA PET/CT was not inferior to MRI in the detection of clinically significant cancers (ISUP 2 and higher).

“This study confirms that the existing ‘gold standard’ of pre-biopsy detection – the MRI – is indeed a high benchmark. Even with fine-tuning, we suspect PSMA PET/CT won’t replace the MRI as the main method of prostate cancer detection,” said Dr Wong.

“But it will likely have application in the future as an adjunct to the MRI, or for people for whom an MRI is unsuitable, or as a single combined “diagnostic and staging” scan for appropriately selected patients.”


3 Australian universities among best in world for medicine

Three Australian universities have been placed in the top 50 rankings for academic excellence in clinical medicine.

Melbourne University was ranked at 14 in the prestigious ShanghaiRanking (formerly Academic Ranking of World Universities or ARWU) Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, with Sydney University being placed at 27 and the University of Western Australia at 32.

The top rankings were dominated by US universities, with Harvard University, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Cambridge University (UK), University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University being the top five ranked institutions.

Other Australian universities appeared lower in the global rankings, including Monash and the University of NSW in the 51-75 ranking range and the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland in the 76-100 range.

Universities are measured on research output, influence and quality, as well as international collaboration and the number of international academic awards.

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