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A chest X-ray and X-rays of the bones are often taken to check your general health and see if there has been any spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

Bone scans

Your doctor may want to see if the cancer has metastasised and has affected you bones.

A small amount of radioactive material is injected into your arm, abnormal bone absorbs more of the radioactive substance than normal bone and shows up on the scan as highlighted areas (known as 'hot spots'). Your arm will then be scanned an hour later to view the activity of the bone and ascertain whether the cancer has spread.

The level of radioactivity that is used is very small and does not cause any harm.

This scan can also detect other conditions affecting the bones such as arthritis, so further tests such as an X-ray of the abnormal area may be necessary to confirm that it is cancer.

CT scan (CAT scan)

A CT scan is basically an X-ray tube that rotates in a circle around the patient and takes a series of pictures as it rotates. The multiple X-ray pictures are reconstructed by a computer in axial slice images at different levels. Each level can be examined separately.

A CT scan may show if cancer has spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes.

The scan takes from 10-30 minutes. You may be given a drink or injection of a dye, which allows particular areas to be seen more clearly. For a few minutes, this may make you feel hot all over. If you are allergic to iodine or have asthma you could have a more serious reaction to the injection, so it is important to let your doctor know beforehand.

You will probably be able to go home as soon as the scan is over.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI or NMR scan)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging technique. This test is similar to a CT scan but uses magnetism instead of X-rays to build up cross-sectional pictures of your body. It is used to view organs, soft-tissue, bone, and other internal body structures. In an abdominal MRI, the person's body is exposed to radio waves while in a magnetic field. Cross-sectional pictures of the abdomen are produced by energy emitted from hydrogen atoms in the body's cells.

An individual is not exposed to harmful radiation during this test.

Gallium-68 PSMA Scan

This is a newer scan that uses a radioactive marker that binds to prostate cancer cells. It is combined with positron emission tomography (PET) and CT scanning technology to help identify areas where prostate cancer may have spread to. Patients only need to present well hydrated and are not required to fast prior to the scan. Patients are given an injection approximately 45 minutes before the scan which then takes around 30 minutes. Patients are generally in the radiology department for around 2½ hours in total. This is a new scan and its accuracy is still being evaluated. As it is new, it is not yet covered by medicare so patients should check the cost of the procedure with the radiology practice.

Other diagnosis/screening