A positron emission tomography scan is often used to help doctors diagnose, monitor, and treat several cancers, including lung, lymphomas, and head and neck cancer. They also help them find tumor locations and determine if treatment is working for patients.
A PET scanner uses a radioactive tracer to show the abnormal (cancerous) cells in the body. Doctors can examine every part of a patient’s body and identify cancer. Known as Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), the radioactive tracer is often attached to fluorine-18. When the glucose is absorbed by body cells, the fluorine-18 will break down and release gamma rays and positrons.
Cancer cells are always aggressive, and they grow and multiply fast as they take in more sugar. On PET scans, cancerous cells will glow brighter.
Here is why PET scans are conducted:
- Sometimes doctors perform PET scans on neurology and cardiology patients.
- And whenever a patient has symptoms, doctors will use a PET scan to determine the proper test needed to identify a problem and give the appropriate treatment.
- Cancer that is discovered through PET imaging can be accurately staged based on its size and the extent to which it has metastasized.
- Follow-up PET Scans are used to detect when a patient’s treatment is not working. This allows oncologists to stop the current treatment and find an alternative one that works well on the patient.
The latest advances in PET technology have enhanced imaging by providing more accurate and precise results during cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment, and monitoring. The PET scanner can fuse images in the body to deliver the entire picture of the cancerous tissue. This enhances the accuracy of diagnosis and minimizes the need for more scans by a patient.
PET imaging is a procedure that is entirely non-invasive and painless. It takes only 30 minutes to get a PET scan.