PET scans use an injection of low-level radioactive material to highlight specific types of tissue in medical images. Different types of radiation may be chosen for different tissue. The radioactive material options for prostate cancer tissue include:
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The radioactive material above attaches itself to prostate cancer tissue, but passes other tissue in the body. The radioactive material makes prostate cancer tissue visible with a PET scan. Gallium 68 helps find cancer that has spread beyond the prostate. It may be used before treatment begins or to look for new areas after treatment. Choline C-11 or F-18 is used for those who have had prostate cancer treatment, but may be at a high risk for recurrence.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your test:
The gallium 68 is injected into a vein. It takes about an hour for the material to spread throughout the body. The actual scan take about 30 minutes.
A radioactive form of choline (a B-complex vitamin) is injected into a vein. Prostate cancer cells quickly absorb the choline. The scan is done right away to get the full effect of the radioactivity, which breaks down quickly. The radioactive forms of choline are C-11 or F-18.
You will be able to leave after the test is done. You can resume normal activities.
Gallium 68—2-3 hours
Choline C-11 or F-18—less than 30 minutes
Your doctor will review the images. The results will be ready in a few days.
Call if you have any questions or concerns. If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Prostate Cancer Canada
Kohlfürst S, Malle P, Igerc I, Gallowitsch HJ, Lind P. The role of F-18 choline PET and PET/CT in prostate cancer. Imaging Decisions MRI. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1617-0830.2010.01141.x/full. Accessed October 10, 2017.
Manyak M. Indium-111 capromab pendetide in the management of recurrent prostate cancer. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2008;8(2):175-181.
Murphy RC, Kawashima A, Peller PJ. The utility of 11C-choline PET/CT for imaging prostate cancer: a pictorial guide. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011;196(6):1390-1398.
PET/CT. PRP Diagonistic Imaging website. Available at: http://www.prpimaging.com.au/service/psma-pet-ct. Accessed October 17, 2017.
Prostate cancer screening and imaging. DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905769/Prostate-cancer-staging-and-imaging. Updated August 23, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 10/17/2017