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Wellness Wednesday: Stopping the spread of prostate cancer

We learn about the PSMA Pet Scan and how it's saving lives
Posted at 11:06 AM, Sep 20, 2023

TREASURE VALLEY, IDAHO — A new tool in the fight against prostate cancer is now available in the Treasure Valley and has already proven to be incredibly effective in finding and identifying cancerous cells that are attempting to spread through the body. We talked with local doctors and a grateful patient about the new technology.

Prostate cancer is, unfortunately, more common than we may think.

"Aside from skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in men in the United States with about 300,000 men diagnosed per year," said Urologist and M.D. with Idaho Urologic Institute, Dr. Hasan Dani.

He adds that about one-in-nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, so the importance of regular testing can't be stressed enough.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing is prevention and early recognition, and the way to do that is with prostate cancer screening," said Dr. Dani.

But after a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, it historically hasn't been easy to find cancerous cells that have spread through the body. That's where the PSMA pet scan can help.

"It uses an agent that targets PSMA, which is a protein that's expressed at very high levels of prostate cancer cells, and again, that's regardless of where those prostate cancer cells are located. Whether they're in the prostate or in the bone or in other parts of the body," said Dr. Dani.

So how exactly does it work?

"When our patients arrive at our facility, we put an intravenous line into one of their veins, and we are able to inject this material into their veins. Then it equilibrates within the system and after about an hour, we're able to image the patient in the scanner," said radiologist Dr. Ian Davey.

It's a game-changer for detecting prostate cancer in hyper-specific areas, and something the medical community is thrilled to have.

"This particular imaging modality has been incredibly exciting because it's so much more sensitive, and generally more specific than all our other imaging tests. In one test, one is able to get more information than with a lot of other tests put together," said Dr. Davey.

"Because this test is so accurate, it again allows us to choose the ideal treatment for each specific patient. Whether that treatment is surgery, radiation, or other medications," said Dr. Dani.

Currently, the PSMA pet scan is available at two locations in the Treasure Valley as the technology has only been around for roughly two years, and I had the good fortune of talking to a gentleman who was one of the first in the area to utilize it.

"It found two very small spots which she showed me after it was over, and at that point, recommended that we have radiation to take care of that area," said Jim Monger, a prostate cancer patient who has first-hand experience using the PSMA pet scan.

Using the PSMA scan, doctors knew exactly where to target, leading to a positive outcome.

"The PSA dropped from 1.5 down to 0.1, and I believe, or I'm told, that it's possible that it will go away in another year or so," said Monger.

And a happy patient.

"I'd recommend it to anyone. It's very simple, very easy, there's nothing to it, and it obviously is very effective," said Monger.

On that note, if you'd like to help support a great cause at a fun event, the Idaho Urologic Institute will be hosting a Blue Ribbon Rally Car Show this Saturday from 10:00am-3:00pm. Proceeds will go to local organization Idaho2Fly, which is a wonderful group that supports men with cancer and benefits prostate cancer research.