Which metabolic imaging, besides bone scan with 99mTc-phosphonates, for detecting and evaluating bone metastases in prostatic cancer patients? An open discussion

E. Bombardieri, L. Setti, M. Kirienko, L. Antunovic, P. Guglielmo, G. Ciocia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prostate cancer bone metastases occur frequently in advanced cancer and this is matter of particular attention, due to the great impact on patient's management and considering that a lot of new emerging therapeutic options have been recently introduced. Imaging bone metastases is essential to localize lesions, to establish their size and number, to study characteristics and changes during therapy. Besides radiological imaging, nuclear medicine modalities can image their features and offer additional information about their metabolic behaviour. They can be classified according to physical characteristics, type of detection, mechanism of uptake, availability for daily use. The physiopathology of metastases formation and the mechanisms of tracer uptake are essential to understand the interpretation of nuclear medicine images. Therefore, radiopharmaceuticals for bone metastases can be classified in agents targeting bone (99mTc-phosphonates, 18F-fluoride) and those targeting prostatic cancer cells (18F-fluoromethylcholine, 11C-choline, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose). The modalities using the first group of tracers are planar bone scan, SPECT or SPECT/CT with 99mTc-diphosphonates, and 18F-fluoride PET/CT, while the modalities using the second group include 18F/11C-choline derivatives PET/CT, 18F-FDG PET/CT and PET/CT scans with several other radiopharmaceuticals described in the literature, such as 18F/11C-acetate derivatives, 18F-fluoro-5a-dihydrotestosterone (FDHT), 18F-anti-l-amino-3-fluorocyclobutane-l-carboxylic acid (FACBC), 18F-2'-fluoro-5-methyl-l-p-D-arabinofuranosyluracil (FMAU) and 18Ga-labeledprostate specific membrane antigen (PMSA) PET/TC. However, since data on clinical validation for these last novel modalities are not conclusive and/or are not still sufficient in number, at present they can be still considered as promising tools under evaluation. The present paper considers the nuclear modalities today available for the clinical routine. This overview wants to discuss the opportunities and the drawbacks of these current diagnostic tests in a scenario where planar scintigraphy and/or SPECT with phosphonates, is the only metabolic imaging recommended by the most important Guidelines of the Scientific Societies dealing with prostate cancer. Other nuclear medicine modalities are in very few cases just cited, never recommended except in rare situations. Is there space for agents other than 99mTc-phosphonates to image bone lesions from prostate cancer?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-399
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Bone metastases imaging
  • Bone scan
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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