Imaging Techniques

Imaging tests are performed if your urologists suspects advanced cancer because of factors such as a markedly high PSA level, a high Gleason Score, and/or large tumor burden. The following tests may be performed: Bone Scan: Small amounts of radioactive materials are injected into your vein, and special x-rays are taken of the bones to look for any changes. Prostascint Scan: This scan evaluates soft tissue (other than the bones) and is available at select centers. Computed Tomography (CAT or CT scan): A computerized x-ray machine takes pictures of the inside of the body and looks for the status of pelvic lymph nodes and other soft tissue. Often this is correlated with the prostascint scan. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A computerized scanner is used to take detailed cross-sectional pictures of the inside of your body. If indicated, an endorectal coil MRI is used. A special probe is placed in the rectum so as to obtain clearer pictures of the prostate and the surrounding organs. Lymph Node Biopsy: Lymph nodes are located throughout the body. They filter out infection and foreign cells. Your lymph nodes may be evaluated to find out whether the prostate cancer has spread to the adjacent lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can be removed using laparoscopy or open surgical methodology prior to open removal of the prostate gland. Your urologist will discuss whether the lymph nodes should be evaluated and the method that he/she is comfortable with. Patients with a low Gleason score (6 or less) and a low PSA of less than 10 usually do not require any further pre-treatment imaging studies. High-risk patients are those with high stage, high Gleason score, and high PSA levels. In such patients, a bone scan and/or a CT scan is obtained. Also high-risk patients will greatly benefit from a pelvic lymph node dissection. Occasionally patients with a high Gleason score with low PSA should be staged from the appropriate scan results.