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Health Tips Tuesday: breakthroughs in prostate cancer imaging

A new breakthrough for prostate cancer patients involves prostate-specific membrane antigen-based imaging.
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 3:07 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A new breakthrough for prostate cancer patients involves prostate-specific membrane antigen-based imaging. Lou Masella, vice president of PET and CT imaging at Shields Health Care, spoke with Western Mass News about the technology.

What exactly is PSMA for PET/CT?

Masella: “PET CT is a radiology-based tool that does a lot of good work at evaluating a number of different cancers. When we use the PSMA, we are focusing on the prostate and not only being able to look at the prostate organ itself, but to evaluate if the cancer has potentially left the prostate and gone to other areas like lymph nodes of the bones.”

Usually, we hear about getting tested in your 50s for prostate cancer, who would you advise is a good candidate for this scan?

Masella: “We know already as men begin to age, they have conversations with their primary doctor about urinary health and that’s an important conversation for all of us that as we age. We know things change in our prostate. If pretreatment or staging is something that is valuable for your conversation, then you may advance to some forms of imaging to evaluate how that cancer is behaving in your body. Now, there are really two sets of patients that are important to advance to PSMA and PET/CT. One is if during early conversation you are finding that you may be at high risk for the disease to escaped your prostate and gone elsewhere. The second group that is important is that I may have already had cancer and may have already been treated for it and my physician is following my treatment post with a blood test and if that blood test changes, then it may be indicative that cancer has reoccurred, and we are going to want to look again and see if it’s escaped the prostate and has attached itself to other areas like the lymph nodes or the bones.

Would you recommend this for an initial screening of prostate cancer?

Masella: “It is not a screening tool and it is not a self-referral tool. This is an important part of the conversation with your primary care physician or if you have been referred to urologist for evaluation, but it becomes very important when there is suspect disease that’s at an advanced stage or if it has recurred because many of these cases can be a little elusive and they may put themselves in a place distant from a normal imaging area that you would take pictures by MRI or PET/CT and getting the full picture to be able to understand to best treat you becomes incredibly important as you are created that treatment plan.”