Positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT) are two powerful technologies that provide advanced information about a patient’s cancer, its location, anatomy, and activity within the body. Using PET-CT helps to target radiation to a precise cancer location without causing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It also improves the accuracy of a patient’s diagnosis.
PET uses radioactive glucose known as Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) that is attached to fluorine-18. When cells absorb the glucose, the fluorine-18 breaks down and releases positrons and gamma rays. Since cancer cells are very active, they grow and multiply fast, taking in more sugar and emitting more gamma rays and positrons. That is why they glow brighter on PET-CT scans.
Here is how PET-CT helps in cancer detection:
- PET-CT detects cancers such as breast cancer, lymphoma, and lung cancer easily.
- It also helps to monitor the activity of cancer and track the diseased cells to know the progress and response of the patient to treatment.
- PET-CT provides a lot of information that doctors use to determine the next cause of action or create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
- When the doctors find cancer through PET-CT, they will stage the cancer based on the size and extent to which it has spread. Low stage cancers are small, and still localized. They can be surgically removed or killed through radiation therapy. Advanced cancer has large tumors that have spread and will need a whole-body therapy such as chemotherapy.
- Follow-up PET-CT scans can detect when treatment is not working and helps oncologists to administer different treatment to the patient.
The latest advances in PET-CT technology will provide more precise and accurate results in the diagnosis, staging, treatment and monitoring of cancer in patients. The hybrid scanner fuses images to give doctors a whole picture of the cancerous area. This helps to improve diagnosis accuracy and minimize the number of scans needed by a patient.