Positron Emission Tomography is a powerful tool for cancer detection and management. Developed more than 30 years ago, PET is a type of nuclear imaging that uses radioactive glucose to pinpoint a diseased tumor.
While X-rays and CT scans provide information about the way organs or tissues look, a PET scan shows what the cells in those organs or tissues are doing, which helps doctors manage the disease.
Barry Siegel is professor of radiology at Washington University in St. Louis and co-chair of the PET registry.
Since 2006, the registry has analyzed PET scans for 40,000 patients in the federal health care program for elderly and disabled Americans.
Researchers wanted to know whether PET scans were valid tools for detection and management of types of cancers beyond the eight paid for by the government insurance program.
“PET led to the change in the management of patients, from either treatment to non-treatment or non-treatment to treatment using the very simplest approach in about one-third or so of patients,” says Siegel.
Siegel says the study looked at 18 different types of cancer and found that the same percentage of all of them would benefit from being analyzed with a PET scan.
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