About PET/CT Scanning
PET is an acronym for Positron Emission Tomography. PET is a test that uses special imaging and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the body function and metabolism of cells in the body.
CT stands for Computed Tomography. CT is an X-ray test that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. The CT scan can show the dimension of vessels, lymph nodes and organ systems.
PET/CT scanning is a revolutionary tool that ensures patients’ are diagnosed more quickly and with greater degree of accuracy and pinpoint precision for certain diseases than other traditional forms of imaging such as MRI and CT.
A PET/CT scan can depict both technologies using a single machine. It provides a picture of function (PET), a picture of anatomy (CT) and a merged picture of both the body’s metabolism and structure.
When PET and CT scans are performed on the same scanner and at the same time, the combined image provides complementary information which enables physicians to more accurately diagnose and identify cancers, heart disease and brain disorders.
PET/CT is valuable because it combines the pathological information with the anatomical giving your doctor a large amount of information to make the most informed decisions.
PET scan can give you and your doctor a life-saving answer to the following questions/concerns:
Do I Have Cancer?
Has My Cancer Spread?
Has My Cancer Come Back?
PET Accuracy Chart
Why? Because a PET scan looks at metabolic function of cells rather than structure – a PET scan can often detect cancerous cells much earlier than CT, MRI, X-ray or Mammography.
One of the main differences between PET scans and other imaging devices such as CT and MRI is that the PET scan reveals at the cellular level metabolic changes occurring in an organ or tissue. This is important and unique because disease processes often begins with functional changes at the cellular level. A PET scan can often detect these very early changes, whereas a CT or MRI detect changes later as the disease begins to cause changes in the structure of organs or tissues.
There are enormous benefits derived from the use of PET/CT:
Helps oncologists reduce the amount of healthy tissue that is treated.
Frequently identifies previously unsuspected cancer-bearing tissues.
Allows for more effective and tailored treatments.
Makes it easier to diagnose patients with head and neck cancer and melanoma, two formerly hard-to-detect cancer types.
Provides greater diagnostic accuracy with a variety of cancers including lung cancer, lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease, pancreatic cancer and ovarian and cervical cancers.
When disease occurs, the biochemistry of the body’s tissues and cells transform. In diseases, like cancer, the metabolic activity of the malignant cells increases thus requiring a higher glucose uptake and utilization. When a small amount of a radioactive tracer called FDG (fluorodeoxglucose), is injected into the patient, it travels through the body and accumulates in cells which then emit signals that are captured by the PET/CT scanner and then transformed into images of biological function.
The risks associated with PET/CT scans are very minimal. The quantity of FDG is kept to a minimum. FDG has a half-life of 110 minutes, so it is quickly expelled from the body and poses no threat to family members exposed to the patient following the scan. There are no side effects to having a PET/CT scan. It is completely painless and non-invasive.