PET Scan for Prostate Cancer
(Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Scan; PSMA Scan; Gallium 68 Scan; Choline C-11 Scan; Choline F-18 Scan)
PET scans use low-level radioactive material to show certain cells. Different types of radiation may be used. The radioactive material options for prostate cancer tissue include:
- Gallium 68
- Choline C-11 or F-18
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Reasons for Test
Cells that use a lot of energy will take in more radioactive material. This will make them easier to see on scan. Cancer cells need a lot of energy. This scan will help to find cancer.
- Gallium 68 helps to 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. The scan may be used if someone is at a high risk for cancer coming back.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review problems that may happen such as:
- Changes in the levels of bilirubin (a waste product) in the blood
- Increase in liver enzymes
- Changes in blood pressure
- Allergic reaction to radioactive material
What to Expect
Prior to test
Before your test:
- You may need to avoid food and drink before your test.
- A laxative or enema may be needed the night before. It will help to clean out the bowel.
- A catheter may be placed just before surgery. It will empty out the bladder.
Description of the 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 takes about 30 minutes.
A radioactive form of choline is injected into a vein. Prostate cancer cells quickly absorb the choline. It breaks down quickly. The scan is done right away.
You will be able to leave after the test is done. You will be able to return to normal activity.
How Long Will It Take?
Gallium 68—2 to 3 hours
Choline C-11 or F-18—less than 30 minutes
Will It Hurt?
Your doctor will review the images. The results will be ready in a few days.
Call Your Doctor
Call if you have any questions or problems.
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 January 8, 2020.
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 Diagnostic Imaging website. Available at: http://www.prpimaging.com.au/service/psma-pet-ct. Accessed January 8, 2020.
Prostate cancer screening and imaging. DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/prostate-cancer-staging-and-imaging. Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed January 8, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 9/18/2020