One in nine men in British Columbia will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. For too many, that diagnosis will be life-ending, but new technology available through the BC Cancer Foundation aims to change that.
The PSMA PET-CT scan (Positron Emission Tomography) detects areas of prostate cancer millimetres in size, utilizing an injectable molecule called 68-gallium-PSMA-11 that binds to the cancerous cells which can then be “seen” by the scanner, giving an accurate picture of size, location, and spread of the cancer.
Currently available only in Vancouver, the Foundation is raising money to make this vital technology readily available throughout BC.
A new weapon in the fight against prostate cancer
For men, prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease, and with age, it becomes more important to watch for symptoms. As with any cancer, early detection is the key to achieving the best possible outcome and having access to the most up-to-date technology is paramount.
A significant improvement on previous medical-imaging tools like CAT scans and bone scans which are limited in scope, the PSMA PET-CT scan allows for earlier detection of spread and more targeted treatment.
“This has made a huge difference in outcomes for many men,” notes Dr. Abraham Alexander, of the BC Cancer Foundation. “It reduces avoidable surgeries and gives us accurate information to provide individualized, targeted care.”
Reducing wait times and surgeries — and saving lives
With this life-saving technology currently available only in Vancouver, wait times range from four to 10 months, making for an emotionally agonizing period, paired with travel to and from Vancouver for those not living in the Lower Mainland.
The BC Cancer Foundation is raising funds to expand PSMA PET imaging to Victoria and Kelowna, and the current fundraiser aims to fund the necessary lab equipment and staff for the two new locations.
Getting these new programs up and running is critical to reducing wait times and surgeries, and saving lives. Each machine can perform 300 to 350 scans per year, improving cure rates and making treatment more targeted.
Dr. Alexander notes that these PSMA PET-CT scanners are more than just imaging technology to detect the cancer, “they’re stepping stones to a new treatment that we don’t have access to yet.”
This new treatment employs a similar molecule (lutetium) that “finds” the prostate cancer cells, but instead of making it easy to see on a scan, it binds to, and then kills, the cancerous cells.
The first step to better outcomes is better scans for more men.
Donate today to help brothers, sons, fathers, uncles, nephews and grandfathers in fighting prostate cancer.
Find them on Facebook here.