inthrop-University Hospital's Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Center recently opened its doors to the region, arming the community with a powerful tool for early detection and treatment of cancer and, in some cases, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.
Elizabeth Yung, MD in PET Imaging Center, monitors her patient.
PET is revolutionizing the diagnosis of
cancer in a way that no other imaging technique has ever done before. Unlike CT or MR scans, PET scans can effectively focus on the whole body to identify sites of involvement of many cancers including lung, colorectal, esophageal, lymphoma, melanoma, head and neck cancer and breast cancer.
When the chest X-ray of a 56-year old male showed a shadow, his physician couldn't determine whether or not it was a benign or malignant lesion.
A series of diagnostic tests and invasive procedures would routinely be ordered to determine if the lesion was cancerous. However, needle biopsies, surgery to remove a section of the lung for testing, additional CT scans, and the possibility of more surgery could be avoided by utilizing PET. In this case, the physician would use the PET scan to determine if the lesion in the lung was malignant or benign. If malignant, the PET scan would be used to stage the malignancy and tell the physician whether the patient should undergo surgery, or if some other therapy would be more effective, saving the patient both time and needless procedures.
PET produces images of the body's biological functions. The simple sugar glucose is labeled with a signal-emitting tracer and injected into the patient. The scanner detects these signals and a computer then gathers them into actual images. Because cancer cells are highly metabolic, they use more glucose than neighboring cells and are easily seen on a PET scan.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of PET technology is in its ability to diagnose, stage and re-stage malignancies and assess the recurrence of disease in cancer patients. PET can also measure the efficacy of treatments to confirm that they are effective or suggest modifications to existing treatment regimens. PET scans can detect metastic disease before structural abnormalities are found through other imaging techniques and can also screen for distant metastases, an important part of preventative medicine.
"A PET scan
of the entire body can reveal the presence
or the absence of a tumor with a single test," said Elizabeth Yung, MD, Director of Winthrop's PET Imaging Center and Nuclear Medicine. "Where imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound can show the presence of an abnormal mass, PET can reveal whether or not it is malignant."
While PET technology is generally applied in oncology, it is also utilized in neurology to diagnose dementia and to localize seizure foci and in cardiology to identify coronary artery disease and myocardial viability. Now considered a cost-saving diagnostic test, PET can identify where in the body abnormalities exist in one single scan, instead of multiple imaging tests.
PET technology is not only revolutionizing the way critical diseases are being diagnosed and treated but is also creating a new, higher standard in patient care. For more information on the benefits of PET, please call the PET Imaging Center at (516) 663-2300.