Men who have had surgery or radiation to treat prostate cancer have had to depend on monitoring prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels for excessive elevations somewhere in the 10 – 50 range before a bone or CAT scan would be effective in detecting the recurrence of cancer. For many prostate cancer patients, this created a lot of waiting, monitoring and uncertainty.
Now there’s Axumin (fluciclovine F 18), an FDA-approved positron emission tomography (PET) scan that works by analyzing the metabolic activity specific to prostate cancer. PET is a nuclear medicine imaging test that utilizes a tiny amount of radioactive material, called a radiotracer, that is attracted to tumor cells, enabling earlier cancer discovery than many other types of scans. Because prostate cancer cells bind with amino acids at an accelerated rate compared to healthy cells, the Axumin PET scan is able to capture this abnormal biochemical activity and pinpoint the location of any new cancer formation, even in its earliest stages.
Earlier Discovery Promotes Superior Treatment
With Axumin, men with rising PSA numbers no longer need to wait until levels rise to alarming heights to search for answers about cancer recurrence. Axumin can help determine if cancer is present as soon as PSA levels increase and isolate tumor location so that doctors can determine whether the cancer is a local recurrence, meaning it is limited to the prostate area, or a systemic recurrence, meaning it has metastasized to the lymph nodes and/or bones. Being able to determine which type of recurrence, local or systemic, can help direct treatment. Local treatment avoids over-treating and possibly damaging healthy areas of the body, while systemic treatment is more aggressive to help control disease progression.
In treatment, Axumin can help doctors better utilize targeted, high-precision radiation technologies like Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, or IMRT, to spot-treat cancer, even in areas that were previously difficult or even impossible to treat with radiation, with greater accuracy and safety than ever before.
When it comes to cancer, early discovery is always the best option, which is why it’s so important that Axumin allows prostate cancer patients with rising PSA to get tested immediately instead of being forced to wait for antigen levels, and possibly cancer, to advance. Qualifying patients’ Axumin scans are completely covered by Medicare.
If you or a loved one had radiation or surgery to treat prostate cancer, make it a point to keep monitoring your PSA levels, and talk to your doctor about Axumin scanning. It’s a prime example of the next generation of diagnostic technologies’ exceptional ability to help save lives.