Seventeen years ago, actor Robert De Niro was treated for prostate cancer. Investor Warren Buffet was treated eight years ago.
Because they were diagnosed in early stages, those guys beat cancer. But not everyone is so fortunate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revealed that the number of men diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer (advanced cancer that's spread and is harder to treat) has jumped from 4% to 8% of all cases.
That's why a newly approved (by the Food and Drug Administration) imaging agent called Ga-68 PSMA-11 that can detect hard-to-spot prostate cancer lesions far earlier than before is being called a game-changer.
This PET scan imaging agent binds to prostate-specific membrane antigen on cancer cells, allowing doctors to locate potentially curable prostate cancer that has high-risk characteristics for metastasis, and to locate suspected recurrences of prostate cancer.
Recently, there's been a lot of debate about getting a yearly prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, because that can lead to unnecessary and life-altering procedures for some men.
The American Cancer Society suggests men age 50 and older at average risk for prostate cancer who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/mL get retested every two years. Higher than 2.5 ng/mL? Test annually.
If a PSA test indicates potential trouble, then this new scanning technique can more accurately identify who needs immediate intervention and where and how to do it, saving lives while reducing the risk of unnecessary surgeries.
In addition, a more sensitive and specific IsoPSA(tm) test also has arrived. The Cleveland Clinic and other places already use it for specific cases.