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Emerging Hybrid PET/CT Scanning Targets Cancer

Cancer. It’s a diagnosis that sends shockwaves of fear. Long treatment protocols are coupled with harsh side effects and punctuated by possible terminal prognosis. Undoubtedly, cancer is one disease that, when caught early enough, can save a patient from grueling treatment regimens and even a death sentence.

Positron Emission Tomography/Computerized Tomography (PET/CT)

A critical weapon in the fight against cancer is a detailed and accurate diagnosis — so in comes PET/CT scan technology. It serves as an essential element in our arsenal to detect and diagnose different types of cancer in that it allows radiologists to see aspects of the disease that cannot be found using traditional CT scan and MRI imaging.

PET/CT technology provides the highest degree of disease sensitivity and specificity of any imaging modality. It shows the exact location, size, shape and potential growth of a tumor in a patient’s body.

Using radioactive imaging agents such as fluorodeoxyglucose F 18, (FDG), PET/CT technology can detect metabolic activity that helps differentiate between cancerous and benign growths.

PET CT Scan machine

FDG — The PET/CT Workhorse

FDG is the workhorse of PET/CT imaging. It is injected into the body and travels to areas of highest metabolism, helping radiologists discern metabolic abnormalities when the body is scanned. This is important because cancerous growths and tumors have a very high metabolic rate. FDG accumulates in the body’s neoplasm (new or abnormal tissue growth) and then provides a map to where a primary tumor is located as well as areas of metastatic disease.

PET CT Scan machine

Dr. Andrew Moran

Dr. Andrew Moran, WakeMed community doctor, chair of Nuclear Medicine and Raleigh Radiology nuclear medicine/PET imaging radiologist says, “It’s a tremendously exciting time to be part of a new PET/CT practice.”  

Dr. Moran, along with his team, have worked around the clock to make hybrid PET/CT scanning available for patients.

“Combined PET/CT scanning is an incredible tool to support oncologists in making sound treatment decisions for their patients. Playing a role in helping cancer patients get the best care possible is very rewarding.”

Benefits of Fusing Technologies in a PET/CT Scanner

Here are several benefits of combining PET/CT technologies for oncologists, patients, radiologists and many other specialists:

  • Eliminating the need for invasive procedures or surgeries such as painful biopsies.
  • Providing early diagnosis since PET/CT can show pathological changes earlier than they would show up on CT or MRI alone.
  • Providing accurate disease staging and location for biopsy, surgery or treatment planning.
  • Assessing response to and effectiveness of treatments, which can help oncologists make informed therapy decisions.
  • Receiving a state-of-the-art CT scan combined with a state-of-the-art PET scan in one pass for precise anatomical registration and landmarking.

Types of Cancer Detected and Treated

In the world of oncology, PET/CT is often used to detect breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach and pancreatic cancers, GI tumors, lymphoma, melanoma and much more. Then because of its high degree of specificity, PET/CT helps with radiation treatment planning.

The Future is Bright for Emerging PET/CT Scanning Technology

While PET/CT is an extraordinary tool today, the future is even more exciting for radiologists, oncologists and specialists alike. Emerging technologies in PET/CT include the introduction of new radioactive imaging agents that can be used to image specific cancers such as prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, gastric cancer, and cancers of the head and neck.

“New tracers will be developed in the next several years for specific sub-types of lung cancer and GI tract cancers, making the process to track these diseases even more sophisticated as well,” says Dr. Moran.

Many of these technologies are in development and will provide valuable information to help oncologists evaluate, treat and monitor patients with various types of cancer. Furthermore, a new field within molecular imaging (theranostics) will allow radiologists to treat certain cancers using radioactive particles that will attach to tracers to ablate tumors.

Hope for Cancer through the WakeMed and Raleigh Radiology Partnership

Raleigh Radiology is proud to be the exclusive imaging partner of WakeMed Health & Hospitals. If your specialist has ordered imaging diagnostics for you, schedule with us to reap the benefits of powerful, targeted and accurate PET/CT scan technology.