New PET Scan May Be Better for Prostate Cancer Follow-Ups

Many of the 180,000 American men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year are likely to find treatments for them are relatively simply. Often found to be rather low-risk, prostate cancer in many cases may not require aggressive interventions, including surgery and radiation. Some men, however, will find their form of this cancer is higher risk, demanding not only treatment to improve survival chances, but also routine follow-ups. Improving the accuracy of those follow-ups to ensure precise, targeted treatment should the cancer return has been the topic of much study as of late. Researchers believe they’ve found a solution in a PET/CT scan.

A new PET/CT scan for prostate cancer patients has been developed that has been found to be superior to other screening options. The scan is able to detect cancer much earlier than MRIs or CTs, giving men and their doctors a better chance of beating the disease should it make a return. To achieve such positive results, the PET/CT scan uses a special tracer drug called Axumin that is able to illuminate cancer cells on scan pictures. The drug has been proven to detect cancer so well, in fact, it has received approval for use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

PET/CT scans can serve a highly valuable role in the ongoing treatment of men who have been diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer, researchers say. Prior to the drug’s approval, men would go in for routine prostate-specific antigen tests, or PSAs, to gauge for the possible recurrence of cancer. If PSA levels were high, tests like an MRI or CT scan were performed. Helpful, to be sure, these tests do sometimes miss new cancer growths and may not always see a spread as early as the new PET/CT is reportedly able to. Essentially, the new test provides a potential way to ensure faster treatment should cancer return.

An estimated 26,000 American men die from prostate cancer each and every year. Having a more accurate tool to assist in the follow-up of more aggressive forms of the disease can help lower that number. Since all men are at risk for prostate cancer, it is highly recommended men and their doctors talk about this disease and early screening procedures. Prostate cancer, when caught early, is quite often very feasible for doctors to successfully treat. Even its more aggressive forms often respond to treatments when they are provided in earlier stages of the disease.

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