For the estimated 180,000 American men likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year, treatment will possibly become a part of their routines. When caught early, this form of cancer is among the most readily treatable. Even after cancer has been “beaten,” however, it is imperative for men to follow up with their healthcare providers. Elevated prostate specific antigen levels may indicate a recurrence and the need for additional testing. Time is of the essence when recurrences are suspected. Just like initial tumors, recurrences are much more readily treatable when caught early. The PET/CT scan gives an edge on this front, studies have shown.
PET stands for positron emission tomography. This imagining test is combined with the CT, or computerized tomography, scan to provide physicians with a clearer, more detailed look inside the human body. Thanks to the development and approval of a new radioactive tracer drug, the PET/CT scan has now surpassed standard CT scans or MRIs alone in ability to detect recurrent prostate cancer. The combination test, in fact, can find cancer earlier than either of the two scans on their own and it can also pinpoint the location and the extent of the recurrence.
Aside from the test’s ability to spot recurrences earlier, the test’s precision is what makes it so attractive to doctors and their patients. By knowing where the cancer is located, doctors are better able to provide patient-specific treatments that can improve quality of care while improving outcome chances.
While prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among American men, its survival rate is quite high. An estimated 26,000 American men die from the disease annually. Having a way to be track recurrences and provide case-specific care may improve the survival rates even more.
All men are at risk for the development of prostate cancer as they age. This disease tends to be rather slow growing, but that is not always the case. Early detection can lead to lifesaving interventions when more aggressive or high-risk tumors are suspected. Routine follow up after treatment is also called for to ensure that recurrences, if any, are addressed as quickly as possible.
Men who are concerned about prostate cancer are urged to talk with their healthcare providers. Routine screening should generally begin in mid-life. Men who are at higher risk may find that screening should begin sooner for them. Doctors can also help men identify their personal risk factors and suggest measures to lower those risks, if possible.