A new imaging agent has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to identify Advanced Prostate Cancer after it has spread to other regions of the body.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second highest cause of cancer mortality in males in the United States, after lung cancer. Every year, more than 34,000 men succumb to the illness.
According to Dr. Michael Morris, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, prostate cancer frequently spreads to the bones. As a result, typical imaging methods have a hard time detecting it.
“It’s incredibly difficult to take photos of what’s going on inside of a bone,” Morris said, noting that standard scans are more likely to detect abnormalities in the tissue around bones after the damage has already occurred.
The new method employs a tracer chemical that searches for a protein called prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA, which is located on most prostate cancer cells. During a PET scan, the tracer, which is delivered into the bloodstream, illuminates certain cells.
In December, the FDA approved the use of a similar tracking agent, which also looks for PSMA, at two California hospitals: the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Francisco. Since 2015, the facilities have been investigating this type of technology.
Dr. Thomas Hope, head of molecular treatment in UCSF’s Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, stated, “We’ve been using it for many years and it works wonderfully.” “We can literally see where the illness is, and individuals are now receiving targeted radiation,” says the researcher.
He remarked, “It’s altering how we think about prostate cancer.”
The new clearance will make it the first commercially accessible tracer for advanced prostate cancer in the United States.
The scan isn’t designed to take the place of PSA testing, which is a standard method of detecting prostate cancer. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which is a blood protein. It’s designed for guys who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
According to Dr. Xiao Wei, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the scan would be particularly effective for prostate cancer patients who have increased PSA levels following therapy, such as surgery and radiation. A rising PSA level means the disease has spread to other parts of the body.
While Wei and other prostate cancer experts believe that imaging will provide them with more knowledge regarding metastatic disease, it is unclear what they should do with it.
“The big question is if it has an influence on what we do for the patient. Will this assist us to achieve better results?” Dr. Justin Gregg, an associate professor of urology and health disparities research at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, explained the situation.
Treatment for prostate cancer is frequently tailored to a man’s age, any other risk factors he may have, and how aggressive the cells seem under a microscope. Impotence and incontinence are common adverse effects of prostate treatment, which might involve radiation and prostate excision.
Not all metastatic prostate tumors will put a man’s life in jeopardy.
“We may identify deposits, but they may sit there and not require immediate therapy in an older guy 75 or 85 years old,” said Dr. Derek Raghavan, president of the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina. “There is also a kind of prostate cancer that can spread to other parts of the body yet not bother the patient for years.”
According to Raghavan, the new imaging is unable to tell which types of prostate cancer cells are more harmful.