PET/CT for diagnosing and staging cancer

Early diagnosis is often the single most important factor in achieving a successful outcome for people with cancer. The unique ability of PET/CT to detect the spread of cancer to other parts of the body has proven invaluable in treating the disease. This evaluation of the extent of cancer is called staging, and it is a crucial first step to determine if surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or some combination is right for the patient.

PET/CT for monitoring cancer treatment

After PET/CT determines the extent of a patient's disease and the doctor initiates a treatment plan, this technology is also the best tool for monitoring the tumor response to therapy. Any new sites of cancer can be identified on the scan, and treatment can be adjusted. Similarly, once a patient is free of disease, PET/CT is ideal for monitoring the body to identify tumor recurrence as early as possible.

PET for heart disease

A heart attack is due to obstruction of one of the blood vessels to the heart, typically causing areas of the heart muscle to die. Heart attacks decrease the heart's ability to pump blood to the body. Sometimes after a heart attack, the muscle does not completely die, but it loses its ability to contract. If a doctor can get more blood to this part of the heart through heart surgery, the heart muscle can be saved and regain its ability to pump blood. A PET scan can determine how much heart muscle is still alive and can be saved, especially for patients who have had a severe heart attack.

PET for Alzheimer's disease

Changes in the brain start many years before the onset of symptomatic Alzheimer's disease, but over the years may lead to irreversible damage to the brain tissue. At the microscopic level, the cells start losing their function and demand less energy for survival. In this situation, PET is an ideal way to measure the activity of the brain and determine which regions may be malfunctioning before those changes become irreversible. The results of the PET scan can help your doctor to recommend new medications that can stop or even reverse the molecular changes associated with early Alzheimer's disease.