A small molecule radiotracer allowed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of metastatic prostate cancer and was superior to conventional imaging modalities, according to a study of 17 patients published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.1

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 American men during their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 180 890 new cases are expected in 2016. Further, about 2.8 million men in the United States are living with the disease and it is expected to cause 26,000 deaths this year.

Better imaging for metastatic prostate cancer is an ongoing goal because conventional imaging methods have limited sensitivity. Imaging can lead to appropriate and timely treatment to improve survival and quality of life.

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The majority of prostate cancers express prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), and high expression of PSMA is associated with metastatic spread. This study used a small-molecule inhibitor of PSMA that was radiolabeled, known as F-18-DCFBC.

The study stated that F-18-DCFBC is significantly more effective than other detection methods currently in use. PET/CT scans using F-18-DCFBC were compared to conventional imaging methods that included expanded Tc-99m-methylene diphosphonate (MDP) bone scan and contrast-enhanced CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

A larger number of lesions (592 vs 520) were detected by DCFBC PET than by conventional methods, in this lesion-by-lesion analysis of 17 patients. DCFBC PET had much greater sensitivity in the lymph nodes, bone, and visceral tissue compared with conventional methods (0.92 vs 0.71).

“PSMA-based PET imaging is a striking example of molecular imaging’s ability to target and detect prostate tumor tissue, thereby markedly improving the imaging of a disease process,” said corresponding author Steve Y. Cho, MD, corresponding author for the study and now an associate professor of nuclear medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.


1.    1.  Rowe SP, Macura KJ, Ciarallo A, et al. Comparison of Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen-Based 18F-DCFBC PET/CT to Conventional Imaging Modalities for Detection of Hormone-Naïve and Castration-Resistant Metastatic Prostate Cancer. J Nucl Med. 2016;57(1):46-53.