This new imaging method has been called a “game changer” and could become the new standard of care.
A new imaging technique for prostate cancer that locates cancer lesions in the pelvic area and other parts of the body to which the tumors have migrated has just been approved by the FDA.
The technique is known as prostate-specific membrane antigen PET imaging, or PSMA PET. This technique uses positron emission tomography in conjunction with a PET-sensitive drug that is highly effective in detecting prostate cancer throughout the body. This means that it can be better and more selectively treated. The PSMA PET scan also identifies cancer that is often missed by current standard-of-care imaging techniques.
It is now possible to provide a more effective imaging test for men who have prostate cancer. Because the PSMA PET scan has proven to be more effective in locating these tumors, it may eventually become the new standard of care for men who have prostate cancer, for initial staging or localization of recurrence.
How the new imaging technique works
For those patients who are initially diagnosed with prostate cancer or who were previously treated but who have experienced a recurrence, one critical step is to understand the extent of the cancer. Medical imaging is used to locate cancer cells so they can be treated.
PSMA PET works using a radioactive tracer drug, which is injected into the body and attaches to proteins known as prostate-specific membrane antigens. Because the prostate cancer tumors over-express these proteins on their surface, it allows the tracer to enable physicians to pinpoint their location.
As of late 2020, UCSF and UCLA are the only two medical centers in the U.S. that can offer PSMA PET to the public through this FDA approval. However, more hospitals will have the opportunity to adopt the technology, but only after applying for expedited FDA approval