Clinical utility of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging in prostate cancer


S. Aslam Sohaib, Department of Radiology, The Royal Marsden Hospital, Downs Road, Sutton SM2 5PT, UK. e-mail:


Study Type – Diagnostic (exploratory cohort)

Level of Evidence 2b

What’s known on the subject? and What does the study add?

This article reviews what is currently known about diffusion weighted MRI (DW-MRI) in prostate cancer.

This mini-review concisely summarises, for clinical managing patients with prostate cancer, the clinical utility of diffusion weighted MRI.


• To review the clinical utility of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) in patients with prostate cancer.


• The current literature on prostate cancer and DW-MRI was reviewed.


• DW-MRI can be readily acquired on a modern scanner with a short image acquisition time and no need for i.v. contrast medium.

• The image contrast is based on the diffusion of water molecules and thus reflects tissue cellularity.

• There is increasing evidence that DW- MRI improves the sensitivity and specificity of prostate cancer detection as well as the identification of tumour aggressiveness.

• DW-MRI is also showing substantial promise as a response biomarker for both local and metastatic disease


• DW-MRI is proving to be a useful adjunct to conventional T2-weighted MRI sequences.

• The eventual role of DW-MRI in combination with other MRI techniques for multiparametric assessment of prostate cancer needs to be defined further.