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A few years yet - C11 Choline PET Scan - video

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This machine is more capable at finding prostate cancer than any other type of scan - in both bones and soft tissue.

Only currently available for public treatment from one place in the world.

It is not likely to ever be found in your local neighbourhood clinic because it requires a cyclotron on site.

It may, however, in future be found in larger centres in major hospitals.

I am told that a hospital in Liverpool NSW is getting a cyclotron, but I do not know if that is true, or if they will be using it for this.

Technical explanation - skip to the video link below if you aren't interested in the technology. (Jim Marshall is also not a physicist.)

This cyclotron shoots beams of tiny particles at high speed.

  • So did your old cathode-ray tube TV, at a much lower speed. The beams hit the screen and lit the dots up.
  • So did your linear accelerator (if you had radiation), at much higher speeds than the TV. The beams hit the DNA in your cells and damaged it. Your cancer cells can't repair themselves as well as healthy cells.
  • The cyclotron is much more powerful than either of these. It pokes tiny particles into atoms, where they stay temporarily, and then later fly out.

In the process here, the cyclotron particle beam is aimed at Carbon, which then temporarily to turns into a radioactive form called Carbon 11 (C11).

Radioactive C11 is attached to Choline, a naturally occurring substance from your body, and injected.

Choline likes your prostate cancer cells better than other cells, and stays around the prostate cancer cells.

The attached radioactive C11 sends out, or emits, small particles called positrons as it goes back to being non-radioactive carbon.

A machine called a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner can see these positrons flying out.

The PET scanner makes a picture for your doctor - in this case with the active prostrate cancer cells brighter than others - as you can clearly see in the video in the link below.

Because it can only see active prostate cancer cells it is of no use while hormone treatment or other drugs are holding you in remission - your PSA has to be rising.

The cyclotron has to be on site because C11 loses its radioactivity very quickly - half the radioactivity is lost in 20 minutes.

This scan looks like it could replace all others in searching for active prostate cancer where it can be made available.

Set the video, with very clear prostate cancer identification at:

C11 Choline PET Scan



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  • 1 year later...

I'm curious to know if anyone knows if the C11-Choline PET scan is available anywhere in Australia yet.   I read about this scan at healingwell.com.  I have metastatic disease and am just about to start radiation to my prostate and SBRT to mets on my spine.  My urologist wants me to get a F-18 FDG scan , but it's not covered by medicare and I'm not sure it's all that useful.  The C-11 scan looks a lot more useful, but I can't identify if I can get it done anywhere in Oz.

Thanks, Steve.

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