SNCC first in Nebraska to offer new type of PET/CT scan

Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center (SNCC) is the first center in Nebraska to offer the first effective PET/CT scan for prostate cancer patients. The scan can detect the location and extent of cancer that has recurred after initial treatment and spread to other parts of the body. Prostate PET/CT scans can detect cancer earlier than either CT scans alone or MRI scans. "By knowing where the cancer has gone, we can provide more accurate, precise and selective treatment," said Scott A. McHam, DO, medical oncologist at SNCC.

After the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, patients undergo treatment such as surgery, cryotherapy or radiation. In some cases, the cancer may recur. Following treatment, men are monitored with periodic PSA blood tests. An increase in PSA levels indicates the cancer probably has recurred, but the location is often difficult to determine. PET stands for positron emission tomography. It is usually combined at the same time with CT (computerized tomography) to improve the quality of the images and help localize abnormalities. PET employs a slightly radioactive tracer drug that hones in on the targeted tissue. PET/CT scans work well for breast, lung, colon and other cancers, but until recently did not work well for prostate cancer because there were no effective tracer drugs for the disease.

That changed in May 2016 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new PET scan tracer drug specifically for prostate cancer. The drug is a synthetic amino acid analog called Axumin (fluciclovine F-18) injection. Attached to the amino acid is a radioactive tracer, fluorine-18. After Axumin is injected into the patient, the drug is taken up by prostate cancer cells. The fluorine-18 emits a small amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. The PET/CT scanner detects this energy, and a computer produces a detailed image.

"Being the first in Nebraska to offer this specific prostate PET/CT scan to our patients is exciting. Adding Axumin to the imaging arsenal for prostate cancer will aid in earlier detection of recurrence," said Matthew Bideaux, BSRS, Radiology Director at SNCC. SNCC completed the first Axumin in Nebraska this past November, in collaboration with Urology, P.C. For 20 years SNCC has provided comprehensive cancer care in two locations in Lincoln and eleven communities in Southeast Nebraska, combining advanced medical oncology and radiation oncology services. For more information about Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center visit LeadingCancerCare.com or call 402-420-7000.

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