PSMA PET-CT for Prostate Cancer
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PSMA PET-CT is an imaging tool that detects prostate cancer anywhere in the body. A safe, radioactive medication called a radiotracer is injected into your body before the imaging test. The radiotracer seeks out and attaches to cancer cells, making them visible on the image. In the case of PSMA PET, the radiotracer attaches to a protein on the surface of prostate cancer cells, called prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA).
If you've been scheduled for a PSMA PET-CT, you doctor may want to:
- find cancer cells.
- plan your cancer treatment.
- check to see whether your cancer treatment is working.
A radiotracer is a radioactive medication that is injected into your body through an intravenous (IV) line. A PET scanner detects cells in your body that absorb the radiotracer, giving doctors information about where cancer is and how it is responding to treatment. The radiotracer decays naturally over the course of a day. It leaves your body mainly through your urine.
Am I a Candidate for PSMA PET-CT?
PSMA PET-CT is for men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. You are a candidate for PSMA PET-CT if you:
- are newly diagnosed with a high risk that the cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
- have been previously treated for prostate cancer and suspect a recurrence due to rising PSA levels.
How to Prepare for Your PSMA PET-CT
- Drink between 32 and 64 ounces of water two hours before your appointment.
- If you are on a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), be aware that we will need to remove it for the exam. Please plan accordingly.
On the Day of Your PSMA PET-CT
You will have a computed tomography (CT) scan at the same time as your PET scan. A CT scan is a fast series of X-ray pictures. The CT pictures are combined with your PET scan to create pictures of your soft tissues and bones.
- Check in for your appointment on the Connect patient portal. You may also check in when you arrive at the imaging center.
- Please wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. Leave your jewelry and valuables at home. Do not wear clothes that contain metal, such as hooks, buckles, or wires.
- When you arrive for your appointment, a healthcare provider will explain the procedure and answer your questions.
- You will be given a radiotracer through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm.
- You will be asked to wait in the room for about 60 minutes. You can sleep, bring music to listen to, or watch videos on your personal devices.
- Next, we will ask you to lie on a narrow, padded table that slides into the scanner. The technologist will leave the room, but they will be able to see, hear, and speak with you at all times.
- During the scan you will need to lie very still because movement can affect the results.
- The scan itself will take about 30 minutes. The entire process will take about two hours.
After Your PSMA PET-CT
Most people can return to their normal activities immediately after a PET-CT scan. A very small amount of the tracer will remain in your body. Drink plenty of water to help flush it out of your system.
This is a diagnostic test, not a therapy. Doctors have used radiotracers to diagnose disease for more than 50 years, and there are no known long-term adverse effects of these procedures. The doses of radiotracer used in a PET scan are small, so your radiation exposure is very low compared with the potential benefits. Rarely, the radiotracer causes an allergic reaction.
A board-certified doctor will review and compare your PET-CT scan with your other imaging tests and write up a detailed report. We will share the results with the doctor who requested the exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you.
How to Access Your Images
You can view, download, or share your exams through your Connect patient portal.
Once you are logged in, select “View Radiology Images” from the menu. A new web browser window will open to display a list of your exams.
Questions About Your Exam?
If you have questions or concerns before your PSMA PET-CT, you may contact us directly at: 212-342-2899.