Mayo Clinic's approach

Evaluation at Mayo Clinic

For details about requesting an appointment for choline C-11 PET scan in conjunction with evaluation for recurrent prostate cancer, please call 507-293-0933 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

You must complete an initial evaluation in the Department of Urology before being considered for the choline C-11 PET scan. After the consult, a determination will be made regarding the appropriateness of the scan. If your doctor recommends the choline C-11 PET scan, a separate return visit will likely be required to conduct the scan. Access for this scan is limited by the ability to produce the choline C-11 imaging agent and appointment availability.

The local contractor for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved coverage of this scan for the indications of recurrent prostate cancer and biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer.

What to expect during your Choline C-11 PET scan

Early warning system for recurrent prostate cancer.

Click here for an infographic to learn more

For choline C-11 PET scan for recurrent prostate cancer, you'll first meet with your doctor to determine whether the exam is appropriate for you. If you're a candidate, you'll receive a full-body positron emission tomography (PET) scan using Choline C-11 Injection. At Mayo Clinic, you'll also receive a computerized tomography (CT) scan at the same time.

The entire scanning procedure — including preparation time — takes about an hour.

To prepare, you'll be asked to lie on your back on a movable table. You'll likely be strapped onto the table to help keep you from moving during the scan. You can wear your street clothes and small jewelry.

Just before the PET and CT scans, you'll receive the choline C-11 agent through an injection in a vein in your arm. The table on which you're lying will then move into the scanner and the exam will begin.

The actual choline C-11 PET scan and accompanying CT scan usually take about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the choline C-11 agent degrades and is no longer useful in identifying sites of possible recurrent prostate cancer. During the scan, you may listen to music to help you relax.

When the scan is complete, the table moves out of the scanner, and you'll be free to leave. You can resume your daily activities. Your doctor will meet with you to discuss the results of your scan.

Possible risks associated with the choline C-11 PET scan include imaging errors, allergic reaction to the imaging agent and mild injection site reactions. A choline C-11 PET scan also contributes to your long-term cumulative radiation exposure.

Read the full prescribing information for Choline C-11 Injection.

Expertise and rankings

Mayo Clinic doctors are widely respected for the contributions they've made to the understanding of recurrent prostate cancer. When you seek care at Mayo Clinic, you can expect:

  • An FDA-approved choline C-11 PET scan site. Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, was the first medical center in the United States to receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prepare and administer the choline C-11 PET scan imaging agent (Choline C-11 Injection).
  • Earlier detection of recurrent prostate cancer. A choline C-11 PET scan can help doctors detect recurrent prostate cancer before it may be detected by more-conventional imaging tests.

    In men with rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, this test may help detect sites of possible recurrent prostate cancer at PSA levels as low as 2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Conventional tests may not detect a recurrence until PSA levels are greater than 20 ng/mL. This difference could mean that sites of cancer recurrence are detected months or years in advance.

  • Detection of recurrent prostate cancer after all forms of treatment. Previous treatment may leave scar tissue that can be confused with active cancer when viewed using conventional imaging. A choline C-11 PET scan can help doctors distinguish between scar tissue, inactive cancer cells and active, recurrent prostate cancer.
  • Personalized care. At Mayo Clinic, an expert team of urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other specialists, if needed, work together to provide you with exactly the care you need. Mayo Clinic specialists have extensive experience treating men with complex cases of recurrent prostate cancer.
  • A full range of treatment options. If Mayo Clinic doctors diagnose recurrent prostate cancer, you have many treatment options. These options may include radiation therapy, including highly focused stereotactic body radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and brachytherapy; hormone therapy; immunotherapy; surgery to remove the prostate (prostatectomy) and, if necessary, pelvic lymph nodes; cryosurgery; and chemotherapy.
  • Nationally recognized expertise. Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center meets the strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognize scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

Nov. 03, 2022
  1. Choline C-11 Injection (prescribing information). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Clinic PET Radiochemistry Facility; 2012. Accessed Dec. 3, 2018.
  2. Prostate cancer. Plymouth Meeting, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Accessed Dec. 3, 2018.
  3. Evans JD, et al. Prostate cancer-specific PET radiotracers: A review on the clinical utility in recurrent disease. Practical Radiation Oncology. 2018;8:28.
  4. Murphy RC, et al. The utility of 11C-choline PET/CT for imaging prostate cancer: A pictorial guide. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2011;196:1390.


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