PET can help physicians effectively pinpoint the source of cancer. This is possible because many cancer cells are highly metabolic and therefore synthesize the radioactive glucose (sugar) that is injected in the patient prior to the exam. The areas of high glucose uptake are dramatically displayed in the scan imagery, as opposed to the anatomical imagery of CT or MRI, which cannot detect active, viable tumors.
How PET/CT Works
While a CT scan provides anatomical detail (size and location of the tumor, mass, etc.), a PET scan provides metabolic detail (cellular activity of the tumor, mass, etc.). Combined PET/CT is more accurate than PET and CT alone.
Benefits of PET/CT
There are tremendous benefits of having a combined PET/CT scan:
In the past, difficulties arose from trying to interpret the results of a CT scan done at a different time and location than a PET scan, due to the fact that the patient's body position had changed. The combination PET/CT provides physicians a more complete picture of what is occurring in the body – both anatomically and metabolically – at the same time.