If the biopsy results show prostate cancer, other tests may be done to work out whether the cancer has spread. You may also have regular tests to check PSA levels, prostate cancer activity and general health.
Learn more about:
This scan can show whether the prostate cancer has spread to your bones. A tiny amount of radioactive substance will be injected into a vein. You will need to wait for 1–2 hours while the substance moves through your bloodstream to your bones.
Your whole body will then be scanned with a machine that detects radioactivity. A larger amount of radioactivity will show up in any areas of bone with cancer cells. The scan is painless and the radioactive substance passes from your body in a few hours.
A CT (computerised tomography) scan uses x-ray beams to create detailed pictures of the inside of the body. A CT scan of the abdomen can show whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. A dye is injected into a vein to help make the scan pictures clearer. You will lie still on a table that moves slowly through the CT scanner, which is large and round like a doughnut. The scan itself takes a few minutes and is painless, but the preparation takes 10–30 minutes.
A PET (positron emission tomography) scan may help detect cancer that has spread or come back. A PET scan involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive solution. Cancer cells take up more of this solution and show up brighter on the scan.
For prostate cancer, the scan usually uses gallium to show prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The cost of this scan is not covered by Medicare.
Dr Amy Hayden, Radiation Oncologist, Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, and Chair, Faculty of Radiation Genito-Urinary Group (FROGG), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, NSW; Prof Shomik Sengupta, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Head, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, and Visiting Urologist and Uro-Oncology Lead, Urology Department, Eastern Health, VIC; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological and Prostate Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ken Bezant, Consumer; Dr Marcus Dreosti, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, and Clinical Strategy Lead, Oncology Australia, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics and The University of Western Australia, WA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and HeadwayHealth Clinical and Consulting Psychology Services, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Graham Rees, Consumer; Kerry Santoro, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Matthew Starr, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. This booklet is funded through the generosity of the people of Australia.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Coping with cancer?
Support groups (face-to-face or telephone), forums and more ways we can help
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment