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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
Prostate Cancer
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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.

Possible Complications

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.

Choline C-11/F-18:

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.

After Test

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.

Revision Information

  • American Cancer Society

  • National Cancer Institute

  • Canadian Cancer Society

  • Prostate Cancer Canada

  • Choline C-11 PET scan. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: Updated Accessed August 5, 2014. September 25, 2015.

  • Early warning system for recurrent prostate cancer. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: Accessed September 25, 2015.

  • FDA approves production of imaging agen that helps detect prostate cancer. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Updated September 12, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2015.

  • How is prostate cancer diagnosed? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated September 12, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2015.

  • Kohlfürst S, Malle P, Igerc I, Gallowitsch HJ, Lind P. The role of F-18 choline PET and PET/CT in prostate cancer.Imaging Decisions MRI. Available at: Accessed September 25, 2015.

  • Manyak M. Indium-111 capromab pendetide in the management of recurrent prostate cancer. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2008;8(2):175-181.

  • Murphy RC, Kawashima A, Peller PJ. The utility of 11C-choline PET/CT for imaging prostate cancer: a pictorial guide. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011;196(6):1390-1398.

  • ProstaScint scan. University of Virginia Health System website. Available at: Accessed September 25, 2015.