by McCoy K
(Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Scan; PSMA Scan; Gallium 68 Scan; Choline C-11 Scan; Choline F-18 Scan)


PET scans use low-level radioactive material to show certain cells. Different types of radiation may be used. The radioactive material options for prostate cancer tissue include:

  • Gallium 68
  • Choline C-11 or F-18
Prostate Cancer
Copyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reasons for Test

Cells that use a lot of energy will take in more radioactive material. This will make them easier to see on scan. Cancer cells need a lot of energy. This scan will help to find cancer.

  • Gallium 68 helps to find cancer that has spread beyond the prostate. It may be used before treatment begins or to look for new areas after treatment.
  • Choline C-11 or F-18 is used for those who have had prostate cancer treatment. The scan may be used if someone is at a high risk for cancer coming back.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review problems that may happen such as:

  • Changes in the levels of bilirubin (a waste product) in the blood
  • Increase in liver enzymes
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Allergic reaction to radioactive material

What to Expect

Prior to test

Before your test:

  • You may need to avoid food and drink before your test.
  • A laxative or enema may be needed the night before. It will help to clean out the bowel.
  • A catheter may be placed just before surgery. It will empty out the bladder.

Description of the Test

Gallium 68:

The gallium 68 is injected into a vein. It takes about an hour for the material to spread throughout the body. The actual scan takes about 30 minutes.

Choline C-11/F-18:

A radioactive form of choline is injected into a vein. Prostate cancer cells quickly absorb the choline. It breaks down quickly. The scan is done right away.

After Test

You will be able to leave after the test is done. You will be able to return to normal activity.

How Long Will It Take?

Gallium 68—2 to 3 hours

Choline C-11 or F-18—less than 30 minutes

Will It Hurt?



Your doctor will review the images. The results will be ready in a few days.

Call Your Doctor

Call if you have any questions or problems.

If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Cancer Society 

National Cancer Institute 


Canadian Cancer Society 

Prostate Cancer Canada 


Kohlfürst S, Malle P, Igerc I, Gallowitsch HJ, Lind P. The role of F-18 choline PET and PET/CT in prostate cancer. Imaging Decisions MRI. Available at: Accessed January 8, 2020.

Manyak M. Indium-111 capromab pendetide in the management of recurrent prostate cancer. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2008;8(2):175-181.

Murphy RC, Kawashima A, Peller PJ. The utility of 11C-choline PET/CT for imaging prostate cancer: a pictorial guide. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011;196(6):1390-1398.

PET/CT. PRP Diagnostic Imaging website. Available at: Accessed January 8, 2020.

Prostate cancer screening and imaging. DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed January 8, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 09/18/2020