PET-CT scanning is one of the most powerful diagnostic tools available, enabling doctors to determine the precise location of a tumor.
PET-CT works by merging two imaging techniques, each of which records a different part of the body.
|PET (positron emission tomography) sees metabolic processes, useful for targeting tumors.
||In a PET scan, you receive an injection with a small amount of radioactive sugar that the scanner can see through the body.
Cancer cells — because they grow more rapidly than healthy cells — often consume much of the sugar, allowing the scanner to make precise images of the tumor.
|CT (computed tomography) sees a 360-degree view of the body, useful for taking 3D pictures.
||Similar to traditional x-rays, CT scans show a higher level of detail and take more accurate pictures of the brain and body.
Combining the images from the two scanners provide a complete picture of the tumor’s location, size, and shape.
Doctors then use this information to:
- Diagnose and stage the disease.
- Plan your treatment.
- Monitor the progress of your treatment.
What are the benefits of PET-CT scans?
The level of detail of PET-CT images:
- Helps oncologists reduce the amount of healthy tissue that is treated.
- Frequently identifies previously unsuspected cancer-bearing tissues.
- Allows for more effective and tailored treatments.
The introduction of PET-CT has made it easier to diagnose people with head and neck cancer and melanoma, two formerly hard-to-spot cancer types.
And, it provides greater diagnostic accuracy in a variety of other cancers, including:
In 1998, UPMC became home to the first PET-CT scanner. UPMC has since utilized the technology in more than 10,000 clinical cases and remains a pioneer in the use of PET-CT technology.
Despite the benefits of PET-CT, the cost of the equipment has caused PET-CT to be limited to larger hospitals.
To bring PET-CT closer to patients, UPMC offers a mobile PET-CT unit that allows many community cancer centers to share equipment and provide the benefits of PET-CT scans, without requiring additional travel from home.
PET-CT imaging is available at hospital-based locations. The diagnostic images taken from the mobile unit are evaluated on-site, or sent to radiologists at hospital-based locations for evaluation.
Your oncologist can provide more information about PET-CT technology.
We offer PET-CT scanning at many UPMC CancerCenter radiation oncology network locations.