PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography)

Advanced Imaging for Advanced Care

At the Saint Vincent Cancer and Wellness Center, we know that a key component to correctly treating your cancer is to have accurate diagnostics. We use positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) scans to find and learn more about a cancer. This technology enables us to help you choose the treatment option that’s right for you and measure its success, providing key information about your outlook and recovery.

Combining Two Imaging Techniques

A PET/CT scanner combines Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT) images. PET images show the function of cells in the body. CT images show body anatomy such as vessels, lymph nodes, and organs. Combining PET and CT images helps doctors diagnose, monitor, and determine treatment for cancer. PET/CT scans can help your doctor determine the extent of cancer, which may reduce the need for biopsy or surgery.

Preparing for a PET/CT Scan

Prepare for your exam by following the guidelines below. Please contact the scheduling department with any questions you may have.

  • Do not eat or drink anything except plain water for 4-6 hours before your exam
  • Take your medication as directed by your doctor
  • Avoid rigorous activity 24 hours before your exam
  • Dress warmly and comfortably
  • If you are a diabetic, eat a small meal four hours before your exam and take your insulin, if necessary. Ensure that your gluclose levels are within normal limits, or the exam will need to be rescheduled.
Consult your doctor prior to your PET/CT Scan if:
  • You are or may be pregnant
  • You are allergic to any drugs or foods
  • You are currently being treated for an infection
  • You are unsure if you should take your medications

Benefits of PET/CT

PET/CT helps doctors accurately diagnose, stage, and treat cancer. PET/CT can help determine:
  • Size and location of the growth
  • Whether the cancer is spreading
  • The best form of treatment
  • Whether therapy is working
  • Whether there has been a recurrence

Risks of PET/CT Scans

The benefits of a PET/CT scan generally outweigh the risks. The largest risk in getting a PET/CT scan is radiation exposure. During a PET scan, you’re injected with a small amount of radioactive substance, but this only stays in your body for a short amount of time. You’ll actually receive more radiation exposure from a CT scan. If you’re receiving many CT scans or other tests with radiation, please inform your doctor or ask if it’s possible to have tests with less radiation. 

Learn More

Learn more about PET/CT scans at Saint Vincent Hospital by talking with your doctor. Please contact the Cancer and Wellness Center at (855) 847-8470 or locally at (866) 245-5995 if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.