CT Scan Assessment for Prostate Cancer

CT scans

Computed Tomography typically shortened to CT scan offer similar benefits to x-rays, MRI’s or PET scans however by combining x-ray and computerised technologies, your consultants are provided with far greater detail in the final scan images. CT scans improve the accuracy of patient diagnoses whilst helping to determine the best course of tailored treatment for individual cases and specific circumstances.

CT scans provide detailed, quick and pain-free insight into the prostate and surrounding tissue by taking a number of multi-angle x-ray scans which are digitally reconstructed on a computer, to create a 3D image of the prostate. Due to the high level of accuracy, closely analysing tiny blood vessels or tumours is just as achievable as larger areas like bones or organs.

CT scans are used to identify physical anomalies such as blood clots, broken bones or the impact of any blunt trauma; they can also dictate the treatment given to patients with prostate cancer, liver disease or similar. The impact of procedures such as biopsies or radiotherapy can also be monitored, as well as the development or recession of any associated health conditions.

Prostate CT Scan
Credit: Getty Images Ltd.

Typical procedure

Following a few hours without food or drink, patients having a CT scan are required to remove all metal objects (jewellery etc.), to wear a gown and to intermittently hold their breath, as they lie still on a table whilst loud, multi-angle x-rays are taken around them. CT scanning usually lasts for 30 minutes or less and patients often return home on the same day.

With contrast

A particular dye known as contrast material may also be introduced into the CT scan procedure; this is done to clarify and improve scan images of more delicate body structures (nerves, veins and similar blood vessels) that are typically more difficult to observe. Due to the contrast, affected body parts are easily highlighted, interference from X-rays is blocked and clarity is improved.

Contrast materials are generally administered with an enema (for treatment of the intestines), injection (for treatment of blood vessels and organs such as the gallbladder or liver) or orally (for treatment of the digestive tract). Following this, patients are advised to drink lots of fluid, so as to aid the kidneys in flushing the contrast material from the body.


The risk of developing cancer as a result of the procedure is minimal, but the DNA damage it causes can induce terminal cancer (approx. 1 of 2000 patients); because this DNA damage is accumulative, risk levels increase with each CT scan (or other radiotherapy). However, the benefits more than outweigh the side effects.

Side effects

The reported side effects of are mainly associated with the contrast materials sometimes used. Although side effects are rare and minimal such as skin rashes or mild itching, allergic reactions to these contrast materials could potentially prove fatal. Patients at increased risk are Metformin users, used to treat type 2 diabetes, kidney disease or an allergy to iodine, medication or seafood. Your healthcare provider will discuss any of these issues with you and be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

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