Prostate Cancer PET/CT

Image Caption : Positron emission tomography (PET) scans produce pictures of the body's metabolic functions, such as where glucose is concentrated in cancerous tumors. Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays to create images of the body's anatomical structures. PET/CT scans combine PET with CT to show both metabolic functions and anatomical structures. PET/CT is the best imaging technology for detecting cancer recurrence.

What is combined PET/CT?

Combined PET/CT uses two imaging methods, CT and positron emission tomography (PET), in one procedure. CT is done first to create anatomic pictures of the organs and structures in the body, and then PET is done to create colored pictures that show chemical or other functional changes in tissues.

Different types of positron-emitting (radioactive) substances can be used in PET. Depending on the substance used, different kinds of chemical or functional changes can be imaged. The most common type of PET procedure uses an imaging agent called FDG (a radioactive form of the sugar glucose), which shows the metabolic activity of tissues. Because cancerous tumors are usually more metabolically active than normal tissues, they appear different from other tissues on a PET scan. Other PET imaging agents can provide information about the level of oxygen in a particular tissue, the formation of new blood vessels, the presence of bone growth, or whether tumor cells are actively dividing and growing.

Combining CT and PET may provide a more complete picture of a tumor's location and growth or spread than either test alone. The combined procedure may improve the ability to diagnose cancer, to determine how far a tumor has spread, to plan treatment, and to monitor response to treatment. Combined PET/CT may also reduce the number of additional imaging tests and other procedures a patient needs.

National Cancer Institute / NIH

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is the gland below a man's bladder that produces fluid for semen. Prostate cancer is common among older men. It is rare in men younger than 40. Risk factors for developing prostate cancer include being over 65 years of age, family history, and being African-American.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include

  • Problems passing urine, such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping the stream, or dribbling
  • Low back pain
  • Pain with ejaculation

To diagnose prostate cancer, you doctor may do a digital rectal exam to feel the prostate for lumps or anything unusual. You may also get a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). These tests are also used in prostate cancer screening, which looks for cancer before you have symptoms. If your results are abnormal, you may need more tests, such as an ultrasound, MRI, or biopsy.

Treatment often depends on the stage of the cancer. How fast the cancer grows and how different it is from surrounding tissue helps determine the stage. Men with prostate cancer have many treatment options. The treatment that's best for one man may not be best for another. The options include watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. You may have a combination of treatments.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

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