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The Utility of PET/CT in the Planning of External Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer


Radiotherapy and radical prostatectomy are the definitive treatment options for patients with localized prostate cancer. A rising level of prostate-specific antigen after radical prostatectomy indicates prostate cancer recurrence, and these patients may still be cured with salvage radiotherapy. To maximize chance for cure, the irradiated volumes should completely encompass the extent of disease. Therefore, accurate estimation of the location of disease is critical for radiotherapy planning in both the definitive and the salvage settings. Current first-line imaging for prostate cancer has limited sensitivity for detection of disease both at initial staging and at biochemical recurrence. Integration of PET into routine evaluation of prostate cancer patients may improve both staging accuracy and radiotherapy planning. 18F-FDG PET/CT is now routinely used in radiation planning for several cancer types. However, 18F-FDG PET/CT has low sensitivity for prostate cancer. Additional PET probes evaluated in prostate cancer include 18F-sodium fluoride, 11C-acetate, 11C- or 18F-choline, 18F-fluciclovine, and 68Ga- or 18F-labeled ligands that bind prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). PSMA ligands appear to be the most sensitive and specific but have not yet received Food and Drug Administration New Drug Application approval for use in the United States. Retrospective and prospective investigations suggest a potential major impact of PET/CT on prostate radiation treatment planning. Prospective trials randomizing patients to routine radiotherapy planning versus PET/CT-aided planning may show meaningful clinical outcomes. Prospective clinical trials evaluating the addition of 18F-fluciclovine PET/CT for planning of salvage radiotherapy with clinical endpoints are under way. Prospective trials evaluating the clinical impact of PSMA PET/CT on prostate radiation planning are indicated.

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