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Once a prostate cancer diagnosis has been made, your doctor may choose one or a combination of the following imaging tests to monitor the cancerous tissue and determine whether it has spread beyond the prostate:
- Ultrasound – Ultrasound technology may be used to monitor prostate size, tumor response or activity in other tissues.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan – A CT scan is an x-ray technique that produces a detailed, three-dimensional (3D) image of the prostate and other structures in the body. A CT scan reveals blood flow and anatomy of tissues in and around the prostate, allowing for the diagnosis and monitoring of tumor growth.
- Positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT) – A PET/CT scan combines the 3D images of a CT scan with a PET scan, which reveals abnormal metabolic activity in the tissues. By blending these two images into one image during a single exam, our physicians can identify abnormal activity and know precisely where this activity is taking place. PET/CT scans may reveal cancerous cells before any tumors or structural changes are present.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI uses radiofrequency waves to create a detailed cross-sectional image of the prostate and surrounding tissues. An MRI has much greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan, making it especially useful in prostate cancer detection, particularly for tumors and metastases.
- ProstaScint scans – This technique detects if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, adjacent tissue or bone. Given by intravenous injection, ProstaScint circulates throughout the body and attaches to prostate cancer cells. The injection contains a small amount of radioactive material that is absorbed by cancer cells and shows up as “hot spots” using a special camera.
- Bone scans – Similar to a ProstaScint scan, this test takes a picture of the skeleton to detect if prostate cancer has spread to the bone (but not to other tissues or lymph nodes).
For men doing active surveillance, we set up for routine PSAs and digital rectal examinations, and if the PSA goes up more than 1 point a year or if we find a change during the rectal examination, we will perform another biopsy. Biopsies are performed every two years regardless of clinical status just to make sure that the disease is not progressing without any outward signs.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.