PET-CT scans are used in the diagnosis of lung and other cancers. A PET (positron emission tomography) scan can map the body’s areas with cancerous cells by detecting FDG,slightly radioactive glucose given intravenously to patients before the scan. A CT (computed tomography) scan takes many cross-sectional images of the part of the body being screenedsimultaneously, which are then combined on a computer.
A CT scan can show the location, size, and shape of lung tumors and any enlarged lymph nodes. The two scans can be combined and conducted at the same time using a machine compatible with both.
PET-CT scans are essential in giving a better insight into where and if the lung cancer has spread to other organs. Furthermore, due to the PET-CT scan’s sensitivity, it is more effective in detecting lung cancer than chest X-rays. It is also vital in staging the disease which helpsto determine the best treatment decisions.
In the United States, lung cancer is currently the leading cancer-related cause of death. Therefore, it is critical that early screening and detection is done to increase survival rates and quality of life. There have been recent changes toguidelines introduced to ensure high-risk patients are allowed to receive the screening.
Those allowed to go for PET-CT scans include high-risk patients who consist of:
- Adults who are 55 to 74 years who are former or current smokers
- Adults who have been smoking for many years
- Heavy smokers who quit less than 15 years ago
- People with a history of lung cancer
- People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other risk factors
For these groups, it is recommended that annual screening is performed for lung cancer. However, it is not recommended for low to moderate risk people to have a PET-CT scan. The new rules are straightforward, so it is easy to identify if you fall into the high or low-risk group.