Imaging prostate cancer continues to represent a clinical challenge for both primary and recurrent disease. In the evaluation of the persistent/recurrent/metastatic prostate cancer, knowledge of cancer location (local v distant), size, and extent are essential in order to design a treatment, tailored to each patient's needs. There are evidence-based guidelines for the use of imaging in assessing the presence of distant spread of prostate cancer. Radionuclide bone scans and computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or positron emission tomography (PET) supplement clinical and biochemical evaluations (prostate-specific antigen [PSA]) for suspected metastatic disease to bones and lymph nodes. There is no consensus about the use of imaging in the evaluation of local tumor recurrence. The use of ultrasound has been limited to biopsy guidance of the prostatic bed, or percutaneous biopsy of enlarged lymph nodes detected on CT or MRI. The use of MRI is evolving. Recent studies indicate that the use of MRI provides valuable information in the evaluation of local tumor recurrence, and nodal and bony metastases. In a patient post-radiation therapy, the method of combining MRI anatomic information with MR spectroscopic metabolic information is evolving. Another modality offering information about anatomy and metabolism of the local disease is PET/CT. The value of PET/CT at present is controversial, but new studies exploring the role of PET/CT in aggressive prostate cancer are promising.
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