Why prostate cancer patients need a PSMA-PET scan

Jarred had first been diagnosed with prostate cancer over 15 years ago – he got surgery at the time, which removed all of the cancer. 

Of course, cancer is a stubborn and incredibly difficult disease…you never know when it’s going to come back.

After being cancer free for more than a decade, Jarred’s PSA test results indicated that his cancer may be returning. He went on additional treatment to lower his PSA, which seemed to help…

Until several years later when his PSA levels started to go up again. Jarred’s doctor did not want to order any scans for Jarred, but Jarred continued to push for it – so eventually his doctor ordered an MRI to see if cancer was, in fact, present.

The MRI showed NO signs of cancer. 

While Jarred was relieved and happy at this news, he still felt worried…

After all, why would his PSA levels be increasing if there was no cancer in his body? 

So he booked a Second Opinion with us to find out more…

And thank goodness he did – 

Our experts immediately sent Jarred for a PSMA-PET scan and discovered that Jarred’s cancer had indeed returned…and had spread!

Fortunately, because we were able to catch the recurrence, Jarred’s doctor urgently adjusted his treatment plan accordingly…

So Jarred now has a very good fighting chance!

Had he NOT called us, the cancer likely would have continued to spread throughout his body, unchecked…and no more options would have been left.

Read on to find out how Jared’s recurrence was missed by standard diagnostics and how we helped him get the right care.

Why Jarred reached out for our help

Jarred is a 64-year-old man with a history of prostate cancer. Jarred’s cancer was originally diagnosed in 2007 and he was provided with surgery which solved the issue. 

However, in 2018 his PSA levels started to rise. In order to address this, his doctor had used intermittent androgen therapy using a drug that blocks testosterone production. Jarred would do this treatment until his PSA went down and then he would go off it.

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein released by prostate cells where it functions to liquefy semen allowing sperm to swim freely as well as dissolving the cervical mucus so the sperm can enter the uterus.

It is also increased in prostate cancers and is used to monitor recurrence. Since Jarred had previously had his prostate removed, then the only reason his PSA would increase would be the presence of prostate cancer cells.

In late 2022, his PSA started to rise again and his doctor suggested he go on anti-hormone therapy again. However, Jarred was concerned and thought it would be a good idea to get a scan to identify any possible tumours for treatment before they got too large or widespread.

In early 2023, his doctor ordered him an MRI which showed there was no cancer anywhere in his body and he was cancer-free

Even though Jarred was happy to receive these results, he was also very confused! He wanted to know why his PSA was still rising if he was cancer-free.

So he reached out to us to find out.

How standard diagnostics like MRI and CT scans can miss cancer

We explained to him that the MRI or CT scan would only show differences in tissue density so if the cancer cells were the same density as the normal surrounding tissue, they would be missed. We examined Jarred’s records and suggested he do a highly accurate scan called a PSMA-PET scan. Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) is a protein on the outside of almost every prostate cell.


Why prostate cancer patients need a PSMA-PET

The PSMA-PET scan uses an antibody-like molecule that specifically attaches to the PSMA molecule on the outside of the prostate cells and attaches a molecule of an intense but short living radioisotope called Gallium-68.

In short, when the patient arrives at the clinic, they are given an injection of the PSMA-Gallium liquid, which then travels throughout the body and attaches to any prostate cell that has a PSMA molecule on it. Then the patient is then given a CT scan and any prostate cancer cells light up like Christmas tree lights.

Importantly, the amount of the PSMA-Gallium-68 liquid a tumour absorbs is referred to as the Serum Uptake Value (SUV) and shows how aggressive a tumour is. The more of the fluid absorbed, the higher the SUV and the more aggressive the tumour is.

Jarred’s private PSMA-PET scan showed different results

We arranged for Jarred to get a private PSMA-PET scan. The results were sent to our team as well as Jarred’s doctors. Within a few days of his scan, we shared the information with him.

Unfortunately, Jarred was not cancer-free as his doctor had recently assured him – the PSMA-PET scan revealed that his cancer was, indeed, back and Jarred now had metastasis: he had four very aggressive lymph nodes in his pelvis.

This new information was passed on to Jarred’s doctor, who immediately changed Jarred’s treatment plan. Instead of simply watching his PSA and providing androgen therapy, the doctor now needed to actively target the metastasized tumours in Jared’s lymph node with radiation therapy.

While Jarred was obviously not happy his cancer had spread, he was greatly relieved that with our help, he was able to catch it in time so it could get treated properly

If Jarred had not gotten the PSMA-PET scan, the consequences would have been very dire as his cancer would have likely spread unchecked until it was all over his body.

How to catch cancer recurrence early and get the best treatment

CTOAM’s Chief Research Director and globally recognized Precision Cancer Medicine expert, Alex Rolland.

Don’t just watch and wait, and don’t let a cancer recurrence get missed.

Timing is everything when it comes to cancer care – the faster you treat it, the better chance you have at a successful outcome.

There are plenty of ways for you to take a step toward getting the care you need:

1.  Book a Precision Second Opinion

To get the most accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment recommendations for your specific case, as soon as possible, register for a Precision Second Opinion with precision cancer medicine expert, Alex Rolland, today.

2. Get a FREE Cancer Care ‘Breakthrough’ Strategy Session
If you’d like to learn more about how precision cancer medicine in general can help you, just apply for this free session with our team. It’s an excellent 1:1 way to empower and educate yourself about your options for cancer care in general.

3. Get a PET scan or PSMA-PET
And if you’d like assistance in coordinating a private PET-CT, reach out to our team. We regularly help connect patients with our network of PET-CT clinics.

4. Explore on your own time, in your own way
And if you’d simply like to learn more on your own about precision cancer medicine, advocacy, and the newest advancements in cancer care, you’re welcome to explore our abundance of free educational resources on our YouTube channel, website, and research blog.

Please note:
CTOAM does not earn any commission from any person, company, or organization that we promote, work with, partner with, or recommend to our patients and clients. Any recommendations we make are completely non-biased and entirely evidence-based. This has been our policy from day one, and will remain as such.

Published by on May 5, 2023