What is a PET/CT scan with PSMA Tracer?

A PET/CT scan that uses PSMA tracer can help identify prostate cancer. The PSMA Tracer agent is injected by IV (intravenously), and attaches to prostate cancer cells, both in the prostate, as well as in metastases. Once it has attached to the cells, it sends out signals that are picked up by the PET/CT scanner, allowing it to form a picture of the location of any prostate cancer that might be present in the body. This provides more accurate and earlier detection of prostate cancer, helping doctors and patients make better-informed treatment decisions.

As with all cancers, an important part of the treatment process is detecting the cancer as early as possible. PET Imaging now offers a PSMA PET/CT scan. PSMA is used for men with prostate cancer:

  • With Suspected Metastases
  • With Suspected Recurrences
  • For Staging With Suspected Metastases
  • For Restaging With Elevated PSA

PSMA scans are able to detect cancer that is located in:

  • Bones
  • Soft Tissue
  • The Prostate or Prostate Bed
  • Small Tumors
  • Patients With Lower PSA Levels

Some added benefits to using PSMA tracers with PET/CT scans include being minimally invasive and often replacing the need for surgical biopsies, it’s ability to locate very small tumors more accurately compared to other tests, and it’s ability focus on prostate cancer by targeting PSMA protein, which is found on the surface of more than 90% of prostate cancer cells. There is a added risk of the small amount of radiation with the scan. Excessive radiation can increase the risk for cancer, however the small amount of radiation received from this scan alone has been determined to be unlikely to cause cancer. During your consultation, our medical team will recommend this test only if it is determined to be of benefit to you in finding prostate cancer. If you are interested in getting a PSMA scan, please fill out the form, and one of our team members will contact you to set up an appointment.

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    What is Prostate Cancer?

    The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that uses male hormones called androgens, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), to trigger and maintain male sex characteristics and reproduction. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control.

    Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

    In many cases, prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer that does not spread beyond the prostate gland before the time of diagnosis. However, some cases are more aggressive and need more urgent treatment. Prostate cancer that is detected early, when it is still confined to the prostate gland, has the best chance for successful treatment.

    Researchers have found several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer, including:

    • Age: your chance of developing prostate cancer rapidly increases after the age of 50, and roughly six in ten cases are found in men over the age of 65.
    • Race/ethnicity: prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races
    • Family history: in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor that can help indicate prostate cancer. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there is more than double the risk of developing this disease.

    Symptoms of Prostate Cancer Include:

    • Trouble Urinating
    • Decreased force in the stream of urine
    • Blood in your urine
    • Blood in your semen
    • Pain in your hips or back
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Weight Loss

    Because these symptoms may overlap with those of other conditions, it is important to get the correct diagnosis to find the right treatment. To help determine the best option for you the American Cancer Society recommends prostate screenings.

    What To Expect

    An integrated PET/CT scan is one of the most advanced imaging technologies for the detection and evaluation of cancer. A PET/CT scan provides images of the entire body and generates high-resolution images of abnormal activity and its location. Abnormal activity often takes place before physical changes are identifiable by other types of imaging such as MRI, CT, x-ray and ultrasound. The scan can detects primary and secondary disease earlier and more accurately than other imaging technologies. Before having a PET scan, your doctor may order a series of x-rays, MRIs or CTs. Our team will work with your doctor and insurance payer to determine which test is most appropriate based on your diagnosis and symptoms.

    Pre-Scan Recommendation

    The radioactive tracer is short-lived and will leave your body quickly; however, we encourage you to drink plenty of water following your scan.

    Pre-Scan Procedure

    Our PET/CT technologist will bring you from the waiting room to a small, private and comfortable room. You will receive an injection of a small amount of radioactive tracer through an IV in your arm. Then you relax and wait for approximately an hour while the radioactive tracer circulates in your body. The injection will not make you feel different or unusual and will not prevent you from resuming your normal daily activities once your scan is completed. This injection is safe and has no known side effects or allergic reactions.

    Scan Setup Procedure

    After about one hour, our technologist will position you on the scanner. Most PET/CT scans take about 20-25 minutes. Our PET/CT scanner is a donut shape and is open on both ends and offers a much more open feeling than an MRI.

    Scanning Process

    During the scan, you will be exposed to a minimal amount of radiation; however, we believe the benefits of the information provided by the scan outweigh the small potential risk. Please let us know if you have any concerns about this exposure.

    Scan Result Waiting Time

    Typically, your doctor will receive scan results in 24-48 hours.

    Take The Next Step

    PET/CT scans are interpreted by some of the most experienced, sought-after PET/CT readers in the country. Our radiologists customize their reports to your specifications and are easily accessible to personally discuss scan results. Customized results are delivered to the physician portal within 24 – 48hrs. Verbal reports may be offered within hours of scan time for “STAT” patients. Speak with a team member today.

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