Although it does not replace a prostate biopsy, the usefulness of imaging tests can help in decision making.
Indeed, physicians are increasingly using imaging technology to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. These tests help measure the size of the tumour, see if there are signs that the cancer has spread, and if so, where in the body.
And to answer these different questions, your doctor might use different imaging tests to look inside your body and get pictures of your bones and organs.
The tests most often ordered are…
Medically reviewed by the surgeon-urologist Dr. Thierry Lebeau on 03/23/2022
Computed tomography (CT )
Known as an abdominal and pelvic or TACO scan, computed tomography, or CT scan, uses x-rays beamed at different angles to create three-dimensional images of your body’s internal organs. Since prostate cancer often spreads to the pelvic and abdominal lymph nodes, your urologist will pay particular attention to these small organs of the immune system and check to see if cancer has lodged there. CT scan can also be used before radiation therapy treatment to find out the exact dimensions of the prostate.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Often more accurate than CT scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic forces and radio waves (rather than X-rays) to create a three-dimensional image of your body’s internal organs. MRI, therefore, makes it possible to see if the prostate cancer has spread into other tissues such as the bones, lymph nodes and seminal vesicles. MRI can also be used to plan treatment, assess the effectiveness of treatment or monitor the progress of cancer.
A bone scan is an imaging technique used to detect the presence of cancerous cells in the bones, which is where prostate cancer most often spreads. Your urologist will usually order a bone scan if your blood alkaline phosphatase or calcium levels are high, you have bone pain, or your prostate cancer is aggressive at diagnosis.
Be aware that not all men with prostate cancer need to have imaging tests, so don’t worry if they aren’t prescribed for you. If you receive a prescription for these tests and you are concerned about this, be sure to let your doctor know so that your concerns are addressed.
A breakthrough in the arsenal of imaging tests…
Positron emission tomography targeting PSMA (PSMA PET/CT)
PET-PSMA, a new type of imaging test, uses radiation to find cancer cells, but not just any cells. The somewhat barbaric acronym PET/CT to PSMA actually hides the combination of computed tomography (CT) with positron emission tomography (PET) of a radiotracer targeting the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). By detecting the presence of a protein — PSMA — on the surface of prostate cancer cells, this imaging technique is able to locate the spread of cancer in the body with greater efficiency than traditional imaging techniques.
This technique is becoming more accessible, but you usually have to participate in a clinical study to be able to take advantage of it.
Both during and after treatment, medical monitoring is essential. Your appointments are an opportunity to discuss with your specialist or report any new symptom that worries you. Above all, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare team for advice.
Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease, our expert lectures and webinars, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you, our events and ways to get involved in advancing the cause.
You have questions or concerns? Don’t hesitate. You can chat with us or contact us at 1-855-899-2873 to discuss with one of our nurses specialized in uro-oncology. They are there to listen, support and answer your questions, as well as those of your family or loved ones. It’s simple and free, like all of our other services.
Webinar to review
Biopsy, understanding your report
Pages on our site that might interest
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