What is a PET Scan?

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a noninvasive procedure that can locate abnormal biochemistry or disease.

In cancer, changes in biochemistry occur before a tumor mass forms. As a result, PET can often identify the presence of disease earlier than a traditional test, which looks for a tumor.

  • Early detection of disease

  • Precise staging & localization of disease progression

  • Accurate monitoring of the effects of therapy

How Does a PET Scan Work?

  • Cancer cells grow at a very fast rate.

  • Growing cells use glucose as a primary source of energy. The faster cells grow, the more glucose is consumed.

  • A form of glucose called FDG, which emits particles called positrons, is injected before a PET scan is done.

  • PET and FDG are used to produce a map of where glucose is being consumed in the body.

  • A PET scanner detects where positrons are being emitted.

  • Our physicians interpret the map (image). Areas which demonstrate high use of glucose help to determine the presence of cancer. 

Preparing for Your PET Scan

  • For six hours before your test, do not eat or drink, except water.

  • Continue to take any medications prescribed by your physician.

  • If you have diabetes, discuss this with your doctor and call the center staff 48 hours before your scan.

  • If you are, or think you may be pregnant, discuss this with your physician. Generally, PET is not performed on pregnant women.

What to Bring and Wear

  • Wear warm, comfortable clothes, as the scanner room is cool.

  • Please arrive 15-30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

  • Bring films or digital images of any previous X-Ray, CT or MR scans.

  • Bring your insurance card with you.

  • If you must cancel or reschedule, please do so at least 24 hours before your appointment.

Your PET Scan

  • After registering, you will go to a preparation area where a PET Technologist will insert a small IV into your arm.

  • A small amount of FDG, a form of glucose, will be injected through the IV. This is painless.

  • You will rest 30-60 minutes while the FDG circulates.

  • Your scan will take about an hour.

After Your Scan

  • You can leave immediately.

  • Your activity will not be restricted. You may drive if you wish, resume your normal diet, exercise and take all prescribed medications.

  • The PET scan will be reviewed by a physician who will send a report to your doctor.

  • Your doctor will contact you about the
    results of your PET scan.

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