PET/CT is especially effective in identifying whether or not a cancer is present; in particular lung, head and neck, colorectal, oesophageal, lymphoma, melanoma, breast, thyroid, cervical, pancreatic and brain cancers as well as other less frequently occurring cancers. It can also be used to assess your response to treatment.
PET scans are taken before and after a chemotherapy cycle to compare the tumour metabolism levels. A successful response seen on a PET scan is often noticed before any changes in anatomy therefore making it an earlier indicator of tumour response compared to other diagnostic modalities.
PET is a form of Nuclear Medicine Imaging (also known as a Radio Isotope). This uses small amounts of radio-active pharmaceuticals to image the body and help diagnose or treat a variety of diseases. The procedure determines the cause of the medical problem based on the function of the organ, tissue or bone. Without Nuclear Medicine Imaging this information may not be available, the alternative being surgery or more expensive and invasive diagnostic tests. X-Rays and CT scans show how your body looks whereas Nuclear Medicine shows how your body works.
The radio-pharmaceutical is injected, swallowed or inhaled (in the form of a gas). This energy is then detected by a gamma camera.
PET images indicate biochemical activity that enables the scan to accurately characterise a tumour as benign or malignant thereby avoiding surgical biopsy when the scan is negative. Conversely, because a PET scan images the entire body, the confirmation of distant metastases (malignant growths) can alter treatment plans in certain cases from surgical intervention to chemotherapy.
PET is extremely sensitive in determining the full extent of disease especially in lymphoma, malignant melanoma, breast, lung, colon and cervical cancers. Confirmation of metastatic disease allows the Physician and patient to decide more accurately on how to proceed with the patient’s management diagnosis.
PET is currently considered to be the most accurate diagnostic procedure to differentiate tumour recurrences from radiation necrosis or post-surgical changes. This approach allows for a more rational treatment plan for the patient.
The PET/CT scan is interpreted by a trained Radiologist and Nuclear Physician and the results will usually be conveyed to your referring doctor within 1 to 2 days. You will need to contact your referring doctor to discuss the results.
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