Well, it is costly. I believe the cost will be $2,000 and up. Try here:
Here is what it does: cancer cells usually multiply more rapidly than ordinary cells. Therefore, they take in more glucose sugar for energy than ordinary cells do. For the PET scan, you get injected with a radioactive sugar (called FDG). After a while, the FDG has accumulated in any areas with cancer. Therefore, when you next go to lay down on the table, the scanner will be able to see any areas that 'light up'. It's like getting most of your body scanned at once. It takes a picture.
Yes, it will show small masses if they light up. The PET machine is usually made in combination with a CT scanner, and that can measure the size of anything that the PET detects.
So, the PET doesn't really show masses, it shows areas of increased metabolic activity. That creates a problem: an infection is also an area of increased metabolic activity. The PET cannot reliably tell the difference between infection and cancer. So PET scans are becoming increasingly used to detect hidden infections when there is not even any suspicion of cancer.
Guess what else is an area of increased metabolic activity? Benign hyperplasia (which means the cells are multiplying quickly but it's not cancerous) does, which might be the dysplasia that we talked about before.
So the PET has no guarantee of providing a solid answer.
I hesitate to tell anybody what to do, but if it were me I'd lean toward getting flow cytometry on the recent biopsy instead.
And about PET: I should mention also that the degree to which any area lights up is given a number, which is called the Standardized Uptake Value (SUV). The higher the vlaue, the higher the metabolic activity in that area. 20 is fairly high. The last I know, though, the SUV isn't a reliable way to distinguish between cancer and infection.
Remind yourself that no cancer has been found so far :)
I appreciated your explanation of the PET scan... it is the first one that has made perfect sense to me. I had one last Friday and the findings were a hyper-metabolic mass on my lower left lung. Infection nor cancer hmmm??? I have been sick off and on since last Nov and have had recent shoulder surgery, pretty stressed out lately to say the least. The pain that brought me back to the Dr this month is very similar to the pain from back in Nov-March, wheezing (gurgling) and pain when I take deep breaths. I go in today for an explanation and a course of action to rule out the cancer portion, which I am staying optimistic about, they haven't found anything yet.
I went to the emergency room on evening over a month ago..at that time they did a CT scan and found that I have sclerosis of the T11 vertebral body..The doctor told me that the shinny spot is a good sign of cancer..after waiting over a month my doctor finally ordered a PET Scan..I was told this test would tell me doctor if I have cancer and where it is at..basicly everything I was needing for it to tell me..now I read that this test may not show cancer or not..I am so confussed and scared..I don't know what questions to ask..Any advise would be helpful at this time
Hi, Tammy. To over simplify things: if a person has cancer which has spread throughout their midsection, deep inside, then the PET scan would be the way to see that. It's like a full body scan all at once. But when spots "light up" on a PET, that might alternatively be inflamed lymph nodes.
A PET scan works like this: they inject a radioactive glucose, then wait to see where it goes to and take the scan picture. Since cancer cells take in more glucose than normal cells, those spots light up on the scan. But spots of infection also take in more glucose than normal cells do, so they'd look at the pattern of what is lighting up. If cancer is suspected, then a biopsy might be done on a spot that is lit up on the scan.
Has your doctor mentioned "multiple myeloma"? MM causes bone to break down, especially in the spine and especially in the lower spine. Do you have high calcium levels in a blood test? High protein levels? Kidney problems?
Or are they looking instead into lymphoma that may have spread to the bone? Any swollen lymph nodes?
What unusual results on tests have you had so far besides the scan?
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