All men are at risk of developing prostate cancer, and it affects up to 13 out of every 100 American males. Some symptoms of prostate cancer can overlap with symptoms of other conditions. Pain when urinating, pain in the back, and difficulty urinating are all symptoms of many different conditions, including prostate cancer.
That’s where positron emission tomography (PET) scans come into the picture. PET scans provide images that are used to confirm the source of your symptoms, and if your PET scan reveals a prostate tumor, you can start getting the treatment you need.
Below, Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand explains what a PET scan is and how it can help detect prostate cancer.
What is a PET scan?
PET scans are imaging tests that provide relevant information about your soft tissues and organs. PET scans produce these images through the use of a radioactive drug 一 sometimes called a tracer.
First, the tracer is delivered intravenously into your arm or hand. Cancer cells tend to absorb glucose faster than noncancerous cells, and this difference in biochemical activity makes all the difference when it comes to detecting the locations of cancerous cells. When the tracer enters your body, the cancerous cells start absorbing it quickly since they have a higher biochemical and metabolic activity. In this case, the tracer is attracted to the prostate tumor, and it shows up as bright white spots on the scan.
The PET images can be combined with other imaging tests, such as a CT or MRI. These are called PET-CT or PET-MRI scans, respectively.
Detecting prostate cancer with PET scans
Different radioactive tracers can be used with PET scans. Here at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center, we use the tracer F-18 Axumin® for prostate cancer. Axumin (fluciclovine F 18) is a radiotracer used during a PET scan for men concerned about prostate cancer, especially men who’ve already had prostate cancer and now have elevated prostate specific antigen levels.
Although the thought of a radioactive tracer might sound intimidating, PET scans can be extremely valuable when it comes to diagnosing and treatment planning. Side effects of a PET scan with F-18 Axumin include an unusual taste in your mouth and injection site pain and redness. That being said, once your results are in, your treatment plan can start taking shape so you can get the prostate cancer treatment you need.
Preparing for your PET scan
PET scans may require a little bit of prep before your test. This may include:
- Avoiding intense exercise prior to your scan
- Avoiding caffeine
- Following a specific diet
- Staying hydrated
Prior to your PET scan for prostate cancer, Dr. Delpassand answers all of your questions, provides you with a list of prescan instructions, and provides postscan instructions, such as drinking water.
To schedule a PET scan or to learn more about other diagnostic tests, we’re just a call or click away. You can reach our Houston, Texas, office at 713-781-6200 or through our online portal.