Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the US. There’s a new and promising diagnostic procedure for prostate cancer known as prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The FDA approved the targeted radioligand for the treatment of patients with prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)–positive mCRPC who have previously been treated with androgen-receptor pathway and taxane-based chemotherapy in March 2022.

This new test can reveal the occurrence of prostate cancer that a standard PET scan cannot, giving physicians more insight into the disease and additional treatment options. This is especially helpful for patients who experience a recurrence of prostate cancer and have already been treated with radiation therapy.

Dr. John Bedwinek, a radiation oncologist from SSM Health Medical Group specializing in prostate cancer, says this does not replace the PSA screening, but allows doctors to know if patients who previously had prostate cancer have a recurrence.

He says this new option is, “a PSMA-PET scan that shows prostate cancer. Here before there was no way to see prostate cancer either in the prostate or elsewhere in the body, so this PSMA-PET scan allows us to see it.”

The new PSMA-PET scan does not replace the PSA test, as the PSA test indicates if the prostate cancer has returned. But this test aids physicians in seeing if the recurrence of the cancer is in the prostate, in the nodes or spread to the bones.

“It would not used for men who have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is for men who have prostate cancer. We use it for men who have very aggressive prostate cancer, the PSMA – PET lets us know if it is all contained in the prostate or if it’s already outside of the prostate,” Bedwinek said.

He says this is a new imaging system for prostate.

“PET scanning has existed for years for lung and breast cancer, but standard PET will not show prostate cancer,” he said. “So now we have this new imaging modality that allows us to see prostate cancer with the PET scan the same way we see it for breast cancer.”

Now we can more accurately identify recurrence of cancer in the prostate and provide better treatment options.

“It means a lot. What this means is when your PSA begins to rise, we can see where the cancer is and decide how to treat it and get a second chance at a cure,” Bedwinek said.

To learn more about prostate cancer symptoms, treatment and diagnosis, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.