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PET Scan for Prostate Cancer

  • Krisha McCoy, MS
Publication Type:


PET Scan for Prostate Cancer

(Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Scan; PSMA Scan; Gallium 68 Scan; Choline C-11 Scan; Choline F-18 Scan)


PET scans use low-level radioactive material to show certain cells. Different types of radiation may be used. The radioactive material options for prostate cancer tissue include:

  • Gallium 68
  • Choline C-11 or F-18
Prostate Cancer.

http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=25492549si1540.jpgProstate CancerNULLjpgProstate CancerNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si1540.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.22NULL2002-10-012553912549_223548Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

This scan will help find cancer cells. Cancer cells need a lot of energy. Cells that use a lot of energy will take in more radioactive material. This will make them easier to see on scan.

  • Gallium 68 helps find cancer that has spread beyond the prostate. It may be used before treatment begins or to look for new areas after treatment.
  • Choline C-11 or F-18 is used for those who have had prostate cancer treatment. The scan may be used if someone is at a high risk for cancer coming back.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Changes in the levels of bilirubin (a waste product) in the blood
  • Increase in liver enzymes
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Allergic reaction to radioactive material

What to Expect

Problems To Look Out For

Call your doctor if you have:
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.





  • Farolfi, A., Calderoni, L., et al. Current and emerging clinical applications of PSMA PET diagnostic imaging for prostate cancer. Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2021; 62(5): 596-604.
  • FDA approves first PSMA-targeted PET imaging drug for men with prostate cancer. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-psma-targeted-pet-imaging-drug-men-prostate-cancer.
  • Highlights of prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatgda_docs/label/2012/203155s000lbl.pdf.
  • Prostate cancer diagnosis and staging. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/prostate-cancer-diagnosis-and-staging.
  • Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET imaging for prostate cancer. UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging website. Available at: https://radiology.ucsf.edu/psma-pet-scan-for-prostate-cancer.


  • Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.