Visualizing Prostate Cancer with PSMA PET/CT

A PSMA PET/CT image shown above discovering a small PSMA expression.

What is a PSMA PET Scan?

A PSMA PET/CT scan is an imaging test used for the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.

PSMA stands for prostate-specific membrane antigen, or simply a PSMA PET exam. PSMA is a protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells and is a protein marker for visualizing cancer cells in patients.

How Does PSMA Imaging Work?

In a PSMA PET/CT scan, a radioactive molecule that specifically binds to the PSMA protein is used as a tracer. This tracer is combined with a radioactive compound or isotope. The scan detects the areas where this tracer accumulates, thus identifying prostate cancer cells in the body.

Is NCPIC Experienced at Imaging Prostate PSMA?

Yes. NCPIC has been imaging with PSMA since 2021 and is one of the most prevalent sites for PSMA imaging in the USA.

Is PSMA Covered by Insurance? Is it FDA Approved?

Yes. PSMA PET/CT imaging was first approved by the FDA in 2021. Insurance, including Medicare, began coverage in 2022.

I’ve heard of a PSA test, is PSMA and PSA the Same?

No.  The two tests, PSA and PSMA tests, help indicate a likelihood of potential prostate cancer. A PSA test, is a blood test that patients take to screen for PSA proteins which are made in the prostate gland while PSMA is a protein biomarker that is located on the outside of a prostate cancer cell.

Is PSMA found in all Prostate Cancer Cells?

PSMA protein correlates to active prostate cancer cells and is found in approximately about 94% 1 of men.

Who is eligible for a PSMA scan today?

Most common indication for a PSMA PET/CT scan is for high risk patients who have undergone prior prostate cancer treatment and have an unknown rising PSA for coverage.

PSMA PET/CT may be ordered by care teams for prostate cancer staging, restaging, treatment planning and monitoring of prostate cancer.

How Does a PSMA PET/CT Compare to a standard CT?

According to researchers, a PSMA PET/CT scan has shown a considerably
improved detection of active prostate cancer versus imaging with CT alone which
has resulted in a change in treatment plans for nearly 50% 2 of patients.

What kind of Pharmaceutical Isotope does NCPIC use?

NCPIC uses an imaging isotopes that is called F-18 PSMA (“f” stands for fluorine). NCPIC chose F-18 as an imaging agent (versus Ga68 PSMA) as research states it has a lower positron range, better image resolution and allows more flexible scanning 3 versus other PSMA isotopes.

How many Men have Prostate Cancer in the USA?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, except for skin cancer. In 2023, an estimated 288,300 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. 4 Worldwide, an estimated 1,414,259 people were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. It is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world.

Can I call NCPIC for more exam information?

Yes, please call NCPIC for any questions related to a PSMA PET/CT exam. NCPIC recommends speaking with your care teams to see if a PSMA exam is suitable for your medical needs.