PET stands for positron emission tomography, an imaging technique that is frequently used to help diagnose cancer and determine if the cancer has spread (called metastatic cancer), by using a radioactive injection. The injected agent localizes to cancer cells. Nowadays, a PET scan is combined with a CT scan, for much greater accuracy.
The PET scan detects areas in the body where cells are highly active, which occurs in many cancers. The CT scan uses xrays to form an accurate picture of inside your body. The fusion of the PET image and the CT scan allows the cancer detected on the PET scan to be localized to a specific area on the CT scan, for example to a nodule in the lung, in the case of lung cancer.
PET scans are performed by a radiographer and interpreted by a radiologist. The scan takes between 15 and 60 minutes depending on the type of scanner. The scanners are often located in major cancer hospitals, and their interpretation performed by specifically trained radiologists.
Examples of images from a PET CT
PET – CT scans are used for many types of cancers. The common reasons for a PET scan are:
To diagnose cancer or stage cancer
To determine the best course of treatment for cancer
To decide if treatment is working by showing decreased activity within the cancer cells following treatment
To assess prognosis by showing how active the cancer is
To see if cancer has recurred after treatment
The diagnosis and characterization of dementia is difficult. Dementia is relatively common and affects >50% of individuals over 85years in the United States. Alzheimer disease is the most common cause, followed by frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is important to distinguish these disorders because the appropriate treatment depends on the specific diagnosis, but figuring out which one is causing a person’s dementia is difficult. PET scans are a useful tool to help differentiate these diseases and each one shows different patterns of cell activity in the brain, that can be recognized by your radiologist.
Booking a PET scan online will soon be available in Ireland through XrayHub. If you are a patient, once you have a referral from your physician, you will be able to upload your request and choose a specialist PET Center of your choice in Ireland, and a time and date that suits you. If you are a physician, GP or consultant you will be able to book your patients’ PET scans online by using your free XrayHub account. The use of order numbers for booking PET scans is supported by our technology.