PET is particularly effective in identifying whether cancer is present or not, if it has spread, if it is responding to treatment, and if a person is cancer free after treatment. Cancers for which PET is considered particularly effective include lung, head and neck, colorectal, esophageal, lymphoma, melanoma and breast, as well as a variety of other tumors for which the effectiveness of PET is currently under investigation.
Because PET measures metabolism it can be superior to other procedures, particularly in differentiating tumors from benign lesions, and in differentiating malignant tumors from non-malignant masses such as scar tissue, which may be formed from treatments like radiation therapy. In specific instances, PET may be used in conjunction with an MRI or CT scan through "fusion" to give a full three-dimensional view of an organ and the location of a tumor within that organ.
A PET scan's ability to measure metabolism has significant implications for diagnosing epilepsy, because it can vividly illustrate areas where brain activity differs from the norm.
PET scans can pinpoint areas of decreased blood flow caused by blockages, and differentiate muscle damage from living muscle. This information is particularly important in patients who have had a previous heart attack and who are being considered for a cardiac procedure.
For more information about PET at Rhode Island Hospital or to schedule a physician-referred appointment, please call 401-444-7383.