Given the slow-growing nature of prostate cancer and its lack of a high metabolic rate, PET scans are often seen as a poor imaging method for an accurate diagnosis. Back then, the lack of effective tracer drugs have hindered medical experts from using PET scans as a tool in detecting the patient’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels.
A new PET scan tracer drug, however, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is designed specifically for prostate cancer.
This tracer drug is called Axumin (fluciclovine F-18), a synthetic amino acid attached with a radioactive tracer known as fluorine-18. When injected, this drug will be taken up by the prostate cancer cells, and the fluorine-18 will emit a small amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. This enables the PET scanner to produce a detailed image.
Other Tracers Developed
Axumin is only the latest among the roster of radiotracers used specifically for prostate cancer patients. The use of choline analogues, for instance, have yielded high sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detection rate. The negative predictive value, however, was pegged at a low rate. Fluorethylcholine, on the other hand, yielded promising results in the staging of prostate cancer, but has the disadvantage of being excreted in urine.
In all, different radiotracers have yielded promising results, but are hindered with certain drawbacks. As it stands, Axumin remains the only tracer drug that can aid medical experts to gauge particular treatments for prostate cancer patients. In fact, the development of Axumin is seen to encourage accurate, precise, and selective treatment to prostate cancer.
With all these possible benefits from the latest technology for PET scans, prostate cancer patients can track the progression of their condition, while their medical providers can adjust treatment accordingly.
New PET scan for prostate cancer patients, ScienceDaily.com
Imaging in Prostate Cancer, Medscape.com