New tool can help diagnose metastatic prostate cancer
A new diagnostic tool for detecting prostate cancer that has metastasized to other areas of the body is now available at the Mary and Dick Heimann Cancer Center in Medford.
Pylarify is an injectable imaging agent that helps PET scans detect prostate cancer in lymph nodes, bones and soft tissue and offers significant advantages over conventional CT scans, bone scans and MRIs.
It can be used to identify suspected metastasis early on, or to determine whether there is recurrent prostate cancer after treatment.
The Heimann Cancer Center ran the first PSMA PET scans with Pylarify on Feb. 14 and the tests went well, said Dr. Mujahid Rizvi, medical director for both the Heimann and the Helen K. Spears Cancer Center in Grants Pass.
There are lots of moving pieces to get Pylarify to Southern Oregon from the production site in Portland. It has to be flown down and be available to be injected at the right time for each patient. Stephen Weymouth, director of Imaging Services at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, was instrumental in getting this technology to Southern Oregon.
“Being able to provide this technology locally is huge for our prostate cancer patients. Patients had to travel to Eugene, Portland or the Bay Area to get this done,” Rizvi said. “Traditional imaging can’t always identify where or how widespread prostate cancer is.”
Pylarify works by targeting a protein called PSMA, an antigen found on the surface of prostate cancer cells. It can detect cancer even in men with low levels of PSA, another protein-specific antigen that is measured through a blood test and is a common way to screen for prostate cancer.
“Pylarify allows us to treat patients more precisely,” Rizvi added.
Prostate cancer can go undetected for years, as some types are slow-growing, and symptoms usually don’t occur until the cancer has advanced. Other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (skin cancer is the first), and new cases number about 288,300 a year, according to cancer.org. About 34,700 men die from prostate cancer each year. It’s rare among young men, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50.
Please talk with your doctor about whether a PSA screening is right for you.
Providers who want to schedule a PSMA PET/CT with Pylarify at the Heimann Cancer Center may call (541) 789-0537 or email our scheduler. Conventional imaging is not a prerequisite, and Pylarify is covered by Medicare and many commercial payers.
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