PET, which stands for positron emission tomography, is a medical imaging procedure that captures three-dimensional images of functions and processes taking place inside the body. Gamma rays are detected which are dispersed via a radionuclide, which is just a fancy term for a tracer. In this way, the PET scan can detect the processes or biology of disorders occurring in the body. PET scans are often used simultaneously with CT (Computed Tomography) scans. The CT scans provide a three-dimensional live image of the anatomy and the PET scan provides the detail of the processes occurring. Together, they are a very effective combination for diagnoses.
Together, the PET/CT scans are used to locate cancer among other conditions, determines the size of growths, it’s shape and whether it is benign or malignant. The PET and CT scans are used throughout the process of detection, evaluation, treatment, and continued monitoring.
For patients who have been initially diagnosed with cancer, the PET/CT scans are of great importance in determining if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. During chemotherapy treatment, the scans help to monitor the changes occurring at the cellular level. The PET technology provides oncologists with information about the processes before the visual changes can be seen.
Together the PET/CT scan combination has become a major contributor to survival rates along with earlier detection.