For the study, scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden Hospital used diffusion-weighted MRI to scan 50 patients who were at their initial prostate cancer diagnosis.

The scientists conducted a follow-up appointment at an average of two years later, and after each scan, they calculated a figure called an Apparent Diffusion Coefficient – a measurement of water movement within tissue.

By the follow-up appointment, 17 men required treatment as their cancer had progressed, while 33 men remained under Active Surveillance.

The scientists found that for men who progressed to treatment, the diffusion-weighted measurements fell between the two scans, while the measurements remained similar for men under Active Surveillance.

Study leader professor Nandita deSouza said diffusion-weighted MRI has a lot of potential for monitoring patients under Active Surveillance, as the scans clearly showed which men’s cancers were progressing.

"If the technique continues to show promise in larger-scale studies, it could one day save men under Active Surveillance from the discomfort and potential complications of regular biopsies," deSouza said.