Nuclear Medicine for Prostate Cancer

This information is useful for adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • Dedicated to providing high-quality nuclear imaging research​
  • Access to the most advanced and accurate scanning equipment
  • Highly trained doctors caring for patients' well-being and comfort

If your doctor suspects prostate cancer, nuclear medicine imaging may be used to make a diagnosis. Nuclear medicine, a type of imaging that uses radioactive materials, is a useful tool to detect and also treat prostate cancer. 

It is a form of diagnostic imaging that helps radiologists determine the stage of cancer. Its second role, if necessary, is as a therapy to improve survival, decrease pain and increase overall quality of life. Finally, if the patient does require treatment, nuclear medicine may be used to gauge how the cancer is responding.

At Yale Medicine, we are committed to using the most up-to-date, advanced and accurate scanning equipment while making sure our patients are comfortable and receive the best care possible. 

A safe, small amount of radioactive material called “radiotracer” is injected into your bloodstream, inhaled as a gas or taken orally. The radiotracer travels through your body, releasing gamma rays, and is taken up by different parts of the body, depending on what’s called the “affinity” of the tissue—in other words, what parts of the body it is naturally attracted to.

“In the case of prostate cancer, most of the radiotracers we use have an affinity for bone,” says Lawrence Saperstein, MD, chief of Nuclear Medicine at Yale Medicine and an assistant professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale School of Medicine. “When prostate cancer spreads, it’s often to the bone. Nuclear medicine is the best way we have of first determining whether or not it has spread and, if so, to which bones.”

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.