Imaging tests are performed if your urologist suspects advanced cancer because of factors such as an extremely high PSA level, a high Gleason Score, and/or a large tumor burden. The following tests may be performed:

Bone Scan: Small amounts of radioactive materials are injected into your vein, and special x-rays are taken of your bones to look for any changes.

Prostascint Scan: This scan evaluates soft tissue (other than the bones) and is available at select centers.

Computed Tomography (CAT or CT scan): A computerized x-ray machine takes pictures of the inside of your body and looks for the status of pelvic lymph nodes and other soft tissue. Often, this is correlated with the prostascint scan.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A computerized scanner is used to take detailed cross-sectional pictures of the inside of your body. If indicated, an endorectal coil MRI is used. A special probe is placed in your rectum to obtain clearer pictures of your prostate and your surrounding organs.

Lymph Node Biopsy: Lymph nodes, which are located throughout the body, filter out infection and foreign cells. Lymph nodes may be evaluated to find out whether the prostate cancer has spread to your adjacent lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can be removed during either a laparoscopic or open surgical procedure prior to removal of the prostate gland. Your urologist will discuss whether your lymph nodes should be evaluated as well as recommend the appropriate procedure.

Patients with a low Gleason score (6 or less) and a low PSA of less than 10 usually do not require any further imaging studies.

High-risk patients are those with high stages, high Gleason scores, and high PSA levels. In such patients, a bone scan and/or a CT scan is obtained. Also, high-risk patients will greatly benefit from a pelvic lymph node dissection. Occasionally, patients with high Gleason scores but with low PSA levels should be staged from the appropriate scan results.