PET Your Way to Better Cancer Diagnosis

PET CT Scans identify prostate cancer stages and types

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Understanding how far cancer has spread is an important step in treating it. Imaging techniques can not only identify prostate cancer but can lead to better treatments.

Three new studies have determined that C-11 choline positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT) scans can help oncologists identify stages of prostate cancer. Additionally, PET/CT scans can identify what type of prostate cancer has returned.

"Ask your urologist about imaging options."

PET/CT scans inject a small amount of radioactive material into the body. C-11 choline is a radioactive form of choline. Cancer cells absorb more of the radioactive choline and oncologists are able to use computers to identify cancerous cells.

The first study showed that PET/CT scans were just as effective as multiple X-rays in determining what stage of prostate cancer a patient had. Cancer is measured in stages, usually one to four, based on how far the cancer has spread. This is useful for patients because it could reduce the cost of diagnosing the disease and eliminate additional evaluations.

The two other studies focused on how PET/CT scans can be used to identify what type of prostate cancer has returned. PET/CT scans can be used to detect if the prostate cancer returned is a localized case or affects the whole body. This can allow oncologists to better treat patients and determine if a patient whose radiotherapy failed can undergo surgery that could cure the disease and improve survival.

Additionally, according to the findings of the studies, PET/CT scans are 30 percent more effective in detecting prostate cancerous tumors than other imaging techniques.

For the senior author of these three studies, R. Jeffrey Karnes, M.D., the use of PET/CT scan could possible improve staging, help oncologists better tailor treatments to the particular type of prostate cancer and help reduce costs.

These results were presented at a meeting of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association.

Research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 26, 2011
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012