Understanding and Improving 18 F-Fluciclovine PET/CT Reports: A Guide for Physicians Treating Patients with Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer

Document Type


Publication Title

Prostate Cancer


The positron emission tomography (PET) tracer 18F-fluciclovine has seen increasing use to localize disease in men with biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer, i.e., elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels post-treatment. 18F-Fluciclovine PET/computed tomography (CT) imaging reports now play central roles in many physician-patient discussions. However, because no standardized grading system or templates yet exist for 18F-fluciclovine image assessment, reports vary in format, comprehensiveness, and terminology and may be challenging to fully understand. To better utilize these documents, referring physicians should be aware of six key features of 18F-fluciclovine PET/CT. First, 18F-fluciclovine is a radiolabeled synthetic amino acid targeting the amino acid transporters ASCT2 and LAT1, which are ubiquitous throughout the body, but overexpressed in prostate cancer. Second, 18F-fluciclovine image interpretation is predominantly visual/qualitative: radiotracer uptake in suspicious lesions is compared with uptake in bone marrow or blood pool. Location of 18F-fluciclovine-avid lesions relative to typical recurrence sites and findings elsewhere in the patient are considered when evaluating lesions' probability of malignancy, as is visibility on maximum intensity projection images when assessing bone lesions. Third, 18F-fluciclovine PET/CT detection rates increase as PSA levels rise. Fourth, detection rates may differ among centers, possibly due to equipment and reader experience. Fifth, since no diagnostic test is 100% accurate, scan data should not be used in isolation. Lastly, 18F-fluciclovine PET/CT findings frequently induce changes in disease management plans. In the prospective multicenter LOCATE and FALCON studies, scans altered management plans in 59% (126/213) and 64% (66/104) of patients, respectively; 78% (98/126) and 65% (43/66) of changes, respectively, involved modality switches. Referring physicians and imagers should collaborate to improve scan reports. Referrers should clearly convey critical information, including prescan PSA levels, and open clinical questions. Imagers should produce reports that read like consultations, avoid leaving open questions, and if needed, provide thoughts on next diagnostic steps.



Publication Date

Spring 4-26-2020