The PET/CT scanner is revolutionizing the detection and treatment of cancer by combining body anatomy and function into one precise image — essential for the identification of cancerous cells.
PET/CT scans for cancer provide information to help physicians:
- Determine the location and size of a tumor
- Differentiate benign from malignant growths
- Assess whether the cancer has spread
- Select treatments that are likely to be appropriate
- Monitor the success of therapy
What happens during a PET/CT scan?
Before a PET/CT scan, you will receive an IV injection of radioactive glucose. The glucose helps cancerous cells show up in exam results, enabling doctors to pinpoint the source and extent of any cancer.
From this information, if cancerous cells are detected, doctors can plan an effective treatment strategy. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy, or a combination therapy where one or more of these options are combined.
Doctors also use the PET/CT scan to monitor the effectiveness of cancer therapies and to change a treatment strategy if it is not working.
After completing a treatment regimen, doctors may order a follow-up whole-body PET/CT scan to determine if the body has responded to treatment. Often, scar tissue at the site of surgical resection or radiation treatment may appear as an abnormality on the CT scan. The PET portion of the PET/CT scan can detect residual disease within the scar tissue and indicate if the treatment was successful or if the tumor has returned.