Prostate cancer is quite often a slower growing form of the disease that some men will find they can simply observe rather than treat aggressively. Others, however, develop a more serious form of the condition that requires swifter, more precise action. Determining which form of cancer a man has can prove problematic without the use of invasive techniques. Enter a new use for the PET scan that may remove the need for invasive testing for some men down the road.
Researchers have found that PET imaging with a specific radiotracer enables them to detect more aggressive forms of prostate cancer more readily. While a standard MR scan still proves better at finding primary prostate cancer, the PET scan with the specific agent enables doctors to pick out lesions that are the most significant clinically. Essentially, the MR helps determine if cancer is present while the PET scan can shed light on its nature.
The significance of the tracer’s success is huge for men during the diagnostic phase of prostate cancer. As it stands right now, an invasive biopsy is the only way to determine if a cancer is more slow-growing or it happens to be aggressive. The new tracer may pave the way to replace a 12-core biopsy for some down the road.
While the new technique is showing a great deal of promise, researchers say more study and validation is needed. Should the tracer stand up in future trials, a whole new, more precise way to find aggressive prostate cancers could be on the horizon.
Prostate cancer affects about 220,000 American men each year. Nearly 30,000 die from the disease. Men who are at risk for prostate cancer are urged to discuss screening protocols with their healthcare providers. Standard screening should typically begin between by about the age of 50.