PET/CT Scan Overview
The Positron Emission Tomography (PET)-Computed Tomography (CT) scanner is the most accurate diagnostic tool available in the proper staging of cancer — often making further surgeries unnecessary. Individually, PET and CT scans are both exceptional tools used to pinpoint diseased tissues in the body. By combining the two technologies, however, we can view the most detailed, accurate images available for the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer. With more traditional approaches to diagnosis and staging, tiny metastic lesions (cancer that has spread) may be overlooked. In fact, in 30% of the cases where PET/CT scanning was used to "re-diagnose" patients, the scheduled treatment of their disease changed dramatically.
The PET scan studies the function (metabolism) of tissue by using isotopes (glucose-based radioactive material), primarily FDG. All cells in the body use glucose to produce energy, but cancer cells use nineteen times more glucose than healthy cells. When FDG isotopes enter cancer cells, they give off more energy. The PET scanner detects this excess energy and an image is created. This image is then combined with the CT scan image to produce a very detailed, anatomic picture.
CT Scan (CAT scan), also known as a computed tomography scan, studies the structure of the body. This high-tech computer linked x-ray machine takes a detailed series of fine "slice" images of the body, offering information about the anatomy such as the size, shape and pinpointed location of a tumor.
In addition to diagnosis and staging, the PET/CT scan is essential in re-staging, or detecting remaining cancer cells after our patients have already undergone treatment. Other benefits include:
One image shows all organ systems
Provides earlier diagnosis of disease
Shows how the body responds to treatment
Reduces need for invasive procedures
Avoids needless pain to the patient
Monitors effects of therapy
Replaces multiple tests
Effectively differentiates between scar tissue and tumor recurrence
To learn more about this progressive diagnostic procedure please speak with your physician or visit www.radiologyinfo.org