Researchers across the country are hopeful about the many studies underway to determine how molecular imaging can improve the diagnosis, staging and treatment of prostate cancer. Molecular imaging is ideal for assessing the prostate gland; where other diagnostic imaging procedures visualize the structure of organs, molecular imaging allows physicians to detect cellular changes that occur early in the course of disease.
Using various molecular imaging technologies, scientists are looking for biological changes that occur as a result of cancer and in response to treatment. These indicators, called biomarkers, could provide an early warning sign for cancer or measure the body’s response to drug therapy. By studying both prostate cancer patients and men with a family history of the disease, researchers hope to identify biomarkers that can predict the progression of disease or a patient’s response to treatment.
To better image the many different forms of prostate cancer, scientists are also testing a variety of new radiotracers to use with PET. Researchers are also exploring applications for optical imaging, in which a light-producing protein literally illuminates the dark interiors of the body, and hybrid imaging, in which images produced by multiple technologies are fused together to provide a more comprehensive view.