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Test used to stage prostate cancer may not be reliable

Men in the state of Kentucky and across the United States who have prostate cancer may not have received the most reliable information regarding the state of their disease. Researchers have found that a common diagnostic tool for prostate cancer, the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) positron emission tomography (PET) scan, may have a major pitfall. Researchers are urging medical professionals not to rely solely on the PSMA PET scan when staging prostate cancer.

The study looked at patients who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer via a PSMA PET scan. PSMA is an enzyme that is found in prostate cancer cells. A PET scan can be used to determine if this enzyme has metastasized to other areas of the body. The study found that benign tissues, such as the kidneys, salivary glands and bowels, can also express PSMA. This expression may lead medical professionals to believe that the lymph nodes may be involved and to alter the treatment course.

Of the 407 patients who were looked at in the study, 401 were found to have an increased background level of PSMA-ligand uptake. Researchers don't believe that the PSMA PET scan should not be used in future patients, but they believe that it should be used in conjunction with an analysis of lymph node metastases in order to provide patients with the best course of treatment.

People who have been misdiagnosed or improperly diagnosed with a medical condition may not receive the best course of treatment, which puts their life at risk. A doctor's diagnostic error due to the use of the incorrect diagnostic tools may result in negligence or medical malpractice. In order for a patient or his or her family to receive compensation, it must be shown that a medical professional acted negligently. In this case, the PSMA PET may result in a doctor acting too aggressively when treating a patient with prostate cancer, resulting in unnecessary medical expenses, irreversible side effects or even death. A lawyer may be able to show that the doctor was negligent in treating the patient as a result of the test and help the person receive compensation.

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