From the June 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Axumin, a PET imaging agent for men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels following prior treatment, has seen rapid adoption in the U.S. since receiving FDA approval in May 2016.
The tracer was developed by Blue Earth Diagnostics in the U.K. and is being distributed in the U.S. by PETNET Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Siemens Healthineers.
HealthCare Business News spoke with Jonathan Allis, D. Phil., CEO of Blue Earth Diagnostics, and Barry Scott, global head of PETNET Solutions, Inc., about Axumin’s busy year – and what we can expect in the months to come.
HCB News: How does Axumin help physicians?
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Approximately 161,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the U.S., so it’s a very common disease. Fortunately, it’s a disease that, if caught early, can be cured in lots of patients, and for those who cannot be cured, they still typically live for a long time – so that’s a good thing.
What is not a good thing is that about one-third of patients – potentially many years after their treatment, whether it was surgery or radiotherapy – will experience a rise in their blood level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) and that means the cancer has probably recurred somewhere.
If you don’t find out where it has recurred you cannot treat it – so you want to have an imaging test that tells you if it has recurred in the prostate bed or near the prostate, or if it’s further away somewhere in the abdomen or in bone, for example. If you can work out where the cancer is, then you can do something about it.
The problem is that current imaging methods are pretty bad at finding where this cancer has recurred. Most people will have a CT scan, but the chance of a CT scan finding the site of prostate cancer recurrence is about 10 to 15 percent, so most of the time physicians and patients are faced with the unpleasant dilemma where the patient has a rising PSA, but they can’t find or treat the disease.
If you don’t treat it at that stage, the patient may develop metastatic disease and that’s an extremely dangerous form of prostate cancer compared to the average. So, that’s where Axumin comes in. It allows you to inject a radiopharmaceutical agent into the patient. It travels to the site of cancer and allows you to see it on a PET scanner.
Axumin will detect this recurrence between 60 and 80 percent of the time – so it allows the disease to be localized so it can be treated appropriately and the disease can be stopped from spreading.