PET Scan for Prostate Cancer
PET scans use an injection of low-level radioactive material to highlight specific types of tissue in medical images. Different types of radiation may be chosen for different tissue. The radioactive material options for prostate cancer tissue include:
- Indium-111 capromab pendetide
- Choline C-11 or F-18
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Reasons for Test
The radioactive material above attaches itself to prostate cancer tissue, but passes other tissue in the body. The radioactive material makes prostate cancer tissue visible with a PET scan. Indium-111 capromab pendetide helps find cancer that has spread beyond the prostate, such as the lymph tissue or bones. Choline C-11 or F-18 is used for those who have had prostate cancer treatment, but may be at a high risk for recurrence.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Changes in the levels of bilirubin (a waste product) in the blood
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Changes in blood pressure
- Allergic reaction to radioactive material
What to Expect
Prior to test
Before your test:
- The doctor may recommend a laxative or enema the night before to clean out the bowel.
- A catheter may be used to empty the bladder just before surgery.
Description of the Test
Indium-111 capromab pendetide:
The indium-111 capromab pendetide scan is done in 2 parts. The radioactive material will be slowly injected through an IV and images are taken. The patient can then return home with no restrictions. After 4-5 days, the patient returns for the PET scan.
A radioactive form of choline (a B-complex vitamin) is injected into a vein. Prostate cancer cells quickly absorb the choline. The scan is done right away to get the full effect of the radioactivity, which breaks down quickly. The radioactive forms of choline are C-11 or F-18.
You will be able to leave after the test is done. You can resume normal activities.
How Long Will It Take?
Indium-111 capromab pendetide—1-2 hours
Choline C-11 or F-18—less than 30 minutes
Will It Hurt?
Your doctor will review the images. The results will be ready in a few days.
Call Your Doctor
Call if you have any questions or concerns. If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Prostate Cancer Canada
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Updated September 12, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2015.
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ProstaScint scan. University of Virginia Health System website. Available at:
Accessed September 25, 2015.