New PET Scan for Prostate Cancer Patients | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Loyola Medicine First in the Midwest to Offer New PET Scan for Prostate Cancer Patients

MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine is the first center in the Midwest to offer the first effective PET/CT scan for prostate cancer patients.

The scan can detect the location and extent of cancer that has recurred after initial treatment and spread to other parts of the body. Prostate PET/CT scans can detect cancer earlier than either CT scans alone or MRI scans.

“By knowing where the cancer has gone, we can provide more accurate, precise and selective treatment,” said Loyola nuclear physician Bital Savir-Baruch, MD.

After the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, patients undergo treatment such as surgery, cryotherapy or radiation. In some cases the cancer may recur. Following treatment, men are monitored with periodic PSA blood tests. An increase in PSA levels indicates the cancer probably has recurred, but the location is often difficult to determine.

PET stands for positron emission tomography. It’s usually combined at the same time with CT (computerized tomography) to improve the quality of the images and help localize abnormalities. PET employs a slightly radioactive tracer drug that homes in on the targeted tissue. PET/CT scans work well for breast, lung, colon and other cancers, but until recently did not work well for prostate cancer because there were no effective tracer drugs for the disease. That changed on May 27, 2016, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new PET scan tracer drug specifically for prostate cancer.

The drug is a synthetic amino acid analog called Axumin™ (fluciclovine F-18). Attached to the amino acid is a radioactive tracer, fluorine-18. After Axumin is injected into the patient, the drug is taken up by prostate cancer cells. The fluorine-18 emits a small amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. The PET/CT scanner detects this energy, and a computer produces a detailed image.

Dr. Savir is among the first nuclear physicians in the country trained to read prostate cancer PET/CT scans employing the Axumin tracer drug. While doing research training and completing a nuclear medicine residency at Emory University, Dr. Savir was part of the research team that developed and conducted clinical trials that led to the FDA approval of Axumin.

Loyola is offering PET/CT scans to previously treated prostate cancer patients who have increasing PSA levels indicating their cancer may have recurred. Patients are scanned from their thighs to their eyes. Loyola’s first patient was scanned with Axumin on Aug. 18.

“We are delighted that we can now offer PET/CT scans to prostate cancer patients in order to improve the quality of their care,” said Robert Wagner, MD, medical director of nuclear medicine. Dr. Wagner is a professor and Dr. Savir is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola Medicine offers a multidisciplinary team of internationally recognized physicians performing state-of-the-art nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. Such imaging is used to diagnose and assist in the management of cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Nuclear medicine and molecular imaging also is used to diagnose many other conditions, including gastrointestinal, lung, bone, kidney and endocrine disorders.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.