PET ScansPET Scans

This is a special type of a scan that creates an image of your entire body and highlights any increased activity of certain parts of the body.

Watch an education video about PET CT scans.

The scan involves injecting a radioactive dye. The types of dyes that are used provide different type of information:

  • Most common PET scan involves a sugar molecule paired up with a radioactive marker and essentially, areas of the body that use more of that sugar, light up on the scan as “hot” or active areas. If those “hot” areas light up in unusual locations, this may be a sign of a cancer growing in that particular spot.
  • More advanced PET Scan dyes provide other types of information. In prostate cancer, we have several very exciting new PET scans because of new types of dyes available that help us detect metastatic (spread) prostate cancer spots. These scans include the Axumin and the PSMA scans.


This type of PET scan has recently been FDA approved for staging of prostate cancer and finding recurrent cancer. It uses a molecule that targets the membrane of prostate cells. There are various types of PSMA scans now available. We are happy to work with several imaging centers that offer our patients the most current diagnostic technology.

Axumin PET Scan

A type of PET scan that uses an injection of a unique dye (fluciclovine F 18) that targets prostate cancer cells. Axumin scan is currently approved for men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels following prior treatment like surgery or radiation therapy.

The great thing about this type of scan is that unlike the CT or bone scans, it may detect metastatic prostate cancer in recurrent cancer cases where the PSA is very low. The studies that got it FDA approved showed an overall cancer metastasis detection rate of ~40% in patients with PSA levels ≤0.79 ng/mL, rising to ~60% at PSA 0.80-2.03.

The test is expensive so there is a real struggle getting insurance companies to approve it but our team at BUC works hard to help patients get things done.

For more information about this test, please visit their site at or click here for a brochure

For locations of Axumin scanners, click here.

How to Prepare for a PET Scan?

What do I eat or drink for the PET scan?

It is very important that you do not have any food or drink (except water) for 4 hours prior to your appointment, as this may severely degrade the PET images. If possible, try to avoid caffeine or strenuous exercise for 24 hours as well. Please take your normal medications as prescribed, but only with water.

What should I bring for the PET scan?

Any prior Radiology tests, paperwork or other medical history can be of great help to the Radiologists when reading your PET scan. The doctors will review this information and incorporate it into your PET scan report. These items will usually be returned to you before you leave our facility. Try to leave any metallic accessories at home (such as jewelry), as they can interfere with PET images.

What should I expect during the scan?

A PET scan may take from as little as 15 minutes to an hour depending on the type it is. Expect to spend about 1.5 hours total at the imaging center, which includes completing some paperwork, resting in a comfy recliner after a small injection and then the PET scan itself.

What do I do next?

Once your PET scan is complete, you may eat! You will immediately receive a small snack pack to enjoy. Don’t forget to request a copy of your PET scan on CD. Once you leave the facility, you may resume your normal daily activities.