Northside Hospital is first in U.S. to use new tool to detect recurrent prostate cancer

A new molecular imaging agent aims to detect recurrent prostate cancer earlier, when used in conjunction with PET (positron emission tomography) imaging.

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, AxuminTM (fluciclovine F 18) is the first FDA-approved F-18 PET imaging agent indicated for use in patients with suspected recurrent prostate cancer. Northside Hospital is the first hospital in the country to use the new drug commercially.

More cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed and treated at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital than anywhere else in Georgia. The hospital offers a comprehensive prostate cancer treatment program, which includes screening and advanced diagnostic capabilities, leading-edge treatment and support.

While most primary prostate cancer can be successfully treated, recurrence occurs in up to one-third of patients. Of those who experience biochemical recurrence (elevated PSA following a prostatectomy or radiation therapy), approximately one-third develop metastatic prostate cancer.

Axumin is designed specifically to target prostate cancer cells. Whereas typical imaging agents (tracers) contain glucose that is absorbed by cancerous cells, prostate cancer cells have a very low sensitivity to sugar. This new agent, rather, consists of a synthetic amino acid that studies show prostate cancer cells prefer.

The drug is administered to patients prior to having PET imaging. The PET scan then detects the tracer and creates an image of the patient’s anatomy. Because more of the tracer is absorbed by the prostate cancer cells, the physician can better see if disease is present, the location and extent of disease and how rapidly it is spreading.

“To date, we have had few imaging tools available for the evaluation of men with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer, said William C. Lavely, M.D., nuclear medicine specialist, Northside Radiology Associates. “The approval of F-18 fluciclovine (Axumin) allows us to have an effective molecular imaging tool to evaluate these patients and assist clinicians in directing further management.”

“Our initial experience is positive, demonstrating abnormal uptake in locations of potential metastatic prostate cancer,” Dr. Lavely added.

Early detection is key in successfully treating many cancers. Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men (1 in 6 men will get it). However, it can be slow growing and take years to develop.

Beginning at age 50, men at average risk (no family history) for developing prostate cancer should begin to discuss the pros and cons of screening with their doctor. Men at high risk for developing prostate cancer should begin discussing screening even sooner.

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