Decoding PET CT

The PET CT Scan is one of the sought after diagnostic tests. Lets find out more on what is a PET CT and why is it preferred over other diagnostic tests, such as an MRI, CT Scan or an ultrasound.

What is a PET Scan ?

A PET Scan is a nuclear medicine technique which produces images of the human body at a molecular level.

A PET CT, uses radioactive tracers in conjugation with isotopes such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon etc. These radio isotopes act at a molecular level and work as probes which seek out disease, cancer in the body while giving out radio signals which are captures to produce an image.

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PET CT Scan
PET CT

This can help in diagnosis of even the tiniest lesions, thus increasing the accuracy of investigation, subsequent diagnosis and hence cancer treatment.

A PET CT Scan, therefore reveals a lot more about the body than standard diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT Scan or an ultrasound.

What happens during a PET Scan ?

A PET CT Scan, is always on a price appointment basis as the radio isotopes, having a a very short half life need to be brought in just before the scan.

A PET CT, is usually carried out empty stomach on overnight or ateast 6 hrs fasting.

The creatinine levels, need to checked prior to conducting the PET CT by a simple blood tests called KFT or Kidney function test

If the creatinine levels are in order, the patient is  tested for blood sugar and if found in order , the patient is given an injection of glucose with a radioactive tracer.

After the injection, the patient is made to rest for about 90 mins and then taken for the actual scan which takes about 30 mins to 45 mins depending upon the imaging required.

During the scan, the patient is made to lie on a comfortable table that moves slowly through the ring like PET scanner.

After the scan, the patient can leave immediately. However close contact with others especially children and pregnant women is best avoided for the next 4-6 hrs.

It is also good to drink a lot of water, to flush out the radio active tracer from the body.

The imaging can be seen by the doctors and the nuclear medicine specialists almost immediately for evaluation, though a formal written report takes a day to be handed over to the patient.

Are there any side effects or discomfort due to the scan ?

There are no sid effects or discomfort due to the PET  CT Scan, except the minor prick while injecting the tracer.

The PET CT scanner, also does not make any sounds while the scan is going on unlike a few other diagnostics tests.

What are the diseases for which a PET CT Scan can be used ?

The most common use case for a PET CT Scan is for detecting and treating cancer. However other applications, include diagnosing cardiac or heart problems and also neurology.

Cancer/Oncology :

During the initial stages of the disease, a PET CT helps distinguish between benign and malignant disease and also cancer staging, that is knowing  and determining the stage of the disease and also its characteristics, which further helps oncologists decide the best treatment option for the patient.

During course of treatment, it helps determine response to therapy or cancer treatment and if the metabolic activity decreases on the PET CT Scan, the oncologists know that the drugs being administered are working.

On the other hand, if the metabolic activity on the scan increases, it indicates that the treatment option is losing its efficacy or is not working and helps oncologists change the line of treatment to benefit the patient.

Cardiac Care: Post a heart attack, a PET CT Scan can be used to determine myopathy , need for CABG or open heart surgery and if there would be any benefit from CABG or would a heart transplant or an LVAD be a better treatment option.

Neurology: Alzeheimer’s at an early stage can be diagnosed using a PET Scan leading to early intervention.

A PET CT Scan helps locate tumours, distinguish between benign and malignant tumours and also scar tissue for brain surgery.

A PET CT  is also useful for treatment of epileptic seizures. It can help locate the origin and focus of seizures and assess sites for intervention if any is required.

What is the difference between a PET CT and an MRI or a CT ?

A CT or an MRI works on the physical level and can give the size and location of the tumour with accuracy.

However since both tests donot work on the molecular level, they cannot indicate metabolic activity of the tumour which only a PET CT Scan can indicate, thereby making a PET CT, a diagnostic test of choice for oncologists, cardiologists, cardiac or heart surgeons and interventional neurologists.

To know more on PET CT Scans, cost and implications, from the best cancer hospitals in India, write to us on info@ihealthkonnect.com or send us a query.

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Are Childhood cancers different from Adult Cancers?

Cancer
Childhood Cancer

Childhood cancers or Paediatric cancers are biologically different from adult cancers.
They grow faster than most adult cancers.

Factors which trigger cancer or cause childhood cancers are different from those causing adult cancers for example smoking a leading cause of adult lung cancer is not a cause for childhood lung cancer.

Most Paediatric cancers are non hereditary and happen due genetic mutations of growing up cells, though pollution, exposure to radiation, chemicals are also contributory factors in a few cases.

Common cancers in children:

The most common childhood cancer is Leukemia or Blood Cancer. Of all types of blood cancers, ALL is the most common one. It affects children in the age group of 2-6 years.
Other common paediatric cancers are tumours of the brain, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, lymphoma, tumours of the kidney, tumours of the adrenal gland, sarcomas , bone tumours etc.

Symptoms of Childhood Cancers:

  • Unusually High Fever
  • Bruise marks or blue marks on the body
  • Prolonged fever with no established cause
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Nose bleed, gum bleed
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Joint pains
  • Pale palor, accompanied with fever, body ache
  • Swelling in the neck or axilla.
  • Increase in size of lymph nodes, along with cough, fever, weight loss
  • Persistent headache
  • Unusual Redness in the eye
  • Early morning vomiting, loss of appetite
    If you notice any of these, it may be a good idea to plan a visit to the doctor.

Are Childhood cancers curable ?

As childhood cancers grow faster than adult cancers, they are also more responsive to chemotherapy and other forms of treatment.

Depending on the stage of cancer and the spread of cancer, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised.

With advances in medical treatment, it is now possible to save limbs in bone cancers, eyes in retinoblastoma depending upon stage of cancer and response to treatment options.

Most blood cancers in children respond extremely well to chemotherapy and get cured.

Over 70% of childhood cancers get cured. 5 year survival rates for brain tumour are more than 90%, for Hodgkins lymphoma are over 90% and for ALL or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia survival rates are over 80%.

Even after complete cure, regular followups with paediatric oncologists are required for the next couple of years.

For a second opinion on childhood cancers, send us a query on info@ihealthkonnect.com or click here.

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Neuroblastoma Treatment, Symptoms of Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma Treatment and symptoms of neuroblastomaSecond most common solid tumor is Neuroblastoma in childhood, which affecting about 7% of all children with cancer. It is also very common solid cancer in infants as well.

There are over 700 cases each year in the U.S. Neuroblastoma generally originates in the adrenal glands (which are located on top of each kidney). However, tumors can begin anywhere in the body including chest, neck and pelvis. The cells that make up neuroblastoma tumors are called neuroblasts.

In this type of cancer, the neuroblasts grow and divide without the usual growth checkpoints and controls, leading to the growth of a cancerous mass of cells known as tumor.

Neuroblastoma Symptoms:
Signs and Symptoms consist of Abdominal swelling, pain, Constipation, Difficulty in urination if a tumor is present in the abdomen.

A lump or bump in the neck that can sometimes be accompanied by drooping of the eyelid, a small pupil, and lack of sweating on the same side of the face, Bone pain, Fatigue, Bleeding and bruising, Fever, Difficulty breathing if the tumor is present in the chest, Weakness or paralysis, High blood pressure, Rapid heartbeat and Persistent diarrhea

Treatment of Neuroblastoma:

Treatment options for Neuroblastoma are surgery, chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Stem cell transplantation/bone marrow transplantation, Retinoid therapy and Immunotherapy.

Solid Sarcomas

Lump of sick cells stuck together develop solid tumor called Solid Sarcomas. It can develop in many parts of the body including the brain, kidneys, liver and bones.

These sick cells crowd out healthy cells.

Common types of solid tumor cancers include:

  • Neuroblastoma
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Wilms tumors.

Next Article: Brain Tumors and Central Nervous System Tumors