Pet used to be a word that meant a cute animal you kept at home but when mesothelioma pet scans become a fact of life, the word pet takes on a whole new different meaning. We’ve researched the latest information from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and other medical websites to give you a current overview about this important mesothelioma diagnostic tool.
What are PET scans?
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a noninvasive, painless molecular imaging technology that allows physicians to determine how organs and tissues inside the body are functioning on a molecular and cellular level. It was first introduced during the 1970s and now widely used.
How are PET scans used for mesothelioma patients?
PET scans are one of the most effective types of nuclear medicine procedures for detecting cancer and monitoring mesothelioma. PET scans provide information to help physicians:
- Locate the site of the cancer
- Determine the size of the tumor
- Differentiate benign from malignant growths
- Discover if the cancer has spread
- Select treatments that are likely to be appropriate
- Monitor the success of therapy
- Detect any recurrent tumors
How should a patient prepare for a PET scan?
PET scans are usually performed on an outpatient basis, and your doctors’ office will provide detailed instructions on how to prepare for an exam. Usually, you are asked not to eat or drink anything for a minimum of six hours before a PET scan. You may be told to wear loose comfortable clothing or you may be given a hospital gown to wear during a PET scan.
What should a patient expect during the procedure?
The procedure begins with the injection of a detectable material called a radiotracer into the patient’s vein. Once the radiotracer is injected, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the body to absorb it. Next, the patient lies down on a flat examining table that is moved to the center of the PET scanner. The machine detects and records signals from the radiotracer. This process can take another 30 to 60 minutes. A computer is used to convert the signals into three-dimensional images that can be studied to track and analyze your mesothelioma.
How long does it take to get results?
A doctor trained in nuclear medicine will interpret the results and write a report for the doctor who ordered the tests. A verbal report can usually be given to your doctor the same day and the written report is usually delivered within two or three days.