PET/CT (Positron-Emission-Tomography and Computed Tomography)
PET/CT – the most modern diagnostic procedure in oncology – reliably tracks down cancerous cells due to their increased metabolism, thus making it possible to diagnose cancer precisely, while it is still in its early stages.
The PET/CT is a combination of Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT) in one device. It combines two different imaging techniques, which makes it possible to provide an exact image of the body structure and function in one and the same image. The exact location, size, activity and spread of a tumour within the body can be determined. During a single examination under the same conditions, different advantages of both methods supplement each other, creating a good image and helping to make a precise diagnosis. Studies have shown that accuracy of diagnosis based on a combined PET/CT examination results has increased compared with two scans performed separately. For you as a patient, in addition to the optimal diagnosis there is one more advantage - only one examination appointment is needed and the examination time is half that of the separate examinations.
PET is a nuclear medical procedure which in most cases uses the low-active radioactive substance similar to dextrose F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Our body cells need dextrose (glucose) as a fuel, and it accumulates in many cancer cells because they grow fast and have a significant demand for fuel. The PET camera produces a picture of the distribution of sugar within the body: the healthy tissue takes up very little glucose, so „cancer cells“ can be identified. They can be recognized early and definitely with the PET, but their exact size and position cannot be determined exactly. The data is presented in a form of cross-sectional images, full-body images and three-dimensional images.
CT is an established x-ray procedure which uses x-rays to create finely structured layered images of the body. In some cases it is necessary to use a contrast agent in order to create clearer images. The CT can be used to precisely define the size and position of the focal point of the cancer, but it is often not able to differentiate well enough or early enough between healthy tissue and cancerous tissue.
PET/CT and Radiotherapy
PET/CT is an important planning tool for radiation therapy. When planning Radiotherapy based on merged data provided by PET/CT, the target volumes can be defined even more precisely. The exact localization of the radiation field makes it possible to provide individual treatment and improve the chances of recovery.
For more information see www.petct-zentrum-hamburg.de