Positive Emission Tomography CT scan is a boon to the healthcare industry for early detection of cancer diagnosis and planning effective treatment. Its a special modality combining two imaging techniques together: PET and CT scan, which is widely used in the early detection of cancer lesions and other chronic ailments. The combined PET CT scan offers more precise and more detailed images and is generally accepted to provide a more accurate diagnosis than the two scans if done individually. The PET scan uses a small amount of radioactive tracer that is actively absorbed by the cancer cells, while the CT scan takes a series of X-rays around the body and produces 3D images. This scan tends to pick up molecular activity going inside the body, thus having the potential to detect diseases in their initial stages.

How beneficial is PET scan for cancer detection?
PET CT scan can detect abnormality at the cellular and nuclear level, making this scan favorable for diagnosing cancer in the body. Cancer in itself is a cellular level disease that is one of the leading causes of death. Being a chronic ailment, early detection of cancer may help to plan effective treatment and save lives. PET CT scan provides high-resolution and detailed images that allow the healthcare provider to understand and analyze the disease. A Whole-Body PET CT scan can be helpful in locating cancer, whether it is static or spread to other parts. The scan can also be advantageous to:

  • Find the size and stage of cancer
  • Detect how much cancer has been spread in the body
  • Evaluate if a patient is ready for cancer surgery
  • Monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment
  • Plan radiotherapy

Most common PET CT scan offered 

  1. FDG PET CT scan: For diagnosing cancer staging and treatment response
  2. PSMA PET CT scan: For diagnosing prostate cancer
  3. DOTA PET CT Scan: For diagnosing neuroendocrine tumors
  4. F-DOPA PET CT scan: For diagnosis and study of Parkinson’s disease
  5. Cardiac PET CT scan: For diagnosis of heart-related ailments

How does the PET CT scan work?
The scan uses a small amount of radioactive tracer injected into the patient’s bloodstream, which gets accumulated in the tumor and region of inflammation. Cancerous cells are metabolically more active, absorb the radiotracer at a higher rate than non-cancerous cells. Due to this difference in the absorbance rate, the images produced show different contrast in abnormal areas.
A high-resolution gamma camera is used during the scanning process that helps detect cancer and mark its source.

Things to remember before going for a PET CT test
There are some important instructions one must follow throughout the procedure:

Before the scan

  • Avoid smoking for 24 hours before the scan
  • Avoid strenuous exercise on the day before the scan
  • 4-6 Hours of fasting is needed for the scan. However, water can be consumed
  • Inform about ongoing medication, pregnancy, and any contrast allergy to the doctor
  • Carry all the old records while going for the scan

During the scan

  • Remove all jewelry and metal items while entering the scan room
  • Stay calm during the process, as movement can interrupt the quality of the scan
  • Follow all the instructions of the technologists

After the scan

  • The patient can continue their usual routine
  • Drink ample water to flush out the radioactive dye from the system

Nuclear medicine is a prestigious subdivision of diagnostics as it is oriented towards the early diagnosis of cancer using state-of-the-art technology. Currently, there are well-established hospitals and diagnostic centres in Delhi NCR region that offer high-quality PET CT scans. Although, with evolving technology, the PET CT scan cost varies across the centres and locations.

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