PET-CT scans are viewed as the gold standard for cancer imaging and can easily give a wide array of information. Doctors use this scan to determine whether there is cancer in the body and, if so, where exactly it is located. This helps in choosing the right course of treatment for the patient.
This scan releases a dose of radiation into the body and the resulting images are crisp and precise. The procedure is generally safe for most patients. Some may worry about the amount of radiation being introduced into the body but the benefits that this scan offers far outweighs the risk.
Patients asked to get a PET-CT scan should expect the following:
- Patients should not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to the procedure. Water is, however, allowed. The test is conducted by first injecting sugars into the body and so it is advisable that the patient stay away from eating sugars at least 24 hours before the procedure. During the exam, sugar is given in an IV injection and the patient relaxes in a warm quiet room between 40 and 60 minutes so the sugar is absorbed.
- The scan involves lying on a table that then passes through the scanner multiple times as it takes images of your body from the eyes to the thighs. This takes between 20 and 30 minutes and that is all. The results will determine the next step.
- If cancer is present the doctor classifies it by stage. From this an appropriate treatment plan can be prescribed. Once treatment has commenced, follow-up scans are used to determine whether the patient is responding to treatment. The scans will show whether the cancer cells are dying off and reducing. If not, the oncologist will need to prescribe a different treatment.
With cancer being a scary diagnosis for many patients, the PET-CT scan helps ensure cancer patients get the best possible treatment plan.It works well, giving the facts as they are.