PET/CT imaging is the acquisition of molecular uptake information and anatomical information in one image. PET/CT IS NOT a radiation treatment technology. Rather, it is advanced imaging that provides your radiation oncologist with an invaluable tool to determine areas of active cancer versus normal structures for use in conjunction with Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT). One of the greatest advantages that PET/CT holds is the potential to increase the radiation dose to small areas that are at greatest risk, without damaging nearby structures.
How does the PET/CT scanner work?
A PET/CT scanner provides the best of both worlds; CT scanning (computed tomography) which provides excellent detail for structural information, and PET scanning (positron emission tomography) which provides metabolic information on a cellular level.
When combined, these two technologies can vastly improve identification and staging of tumors with accurate localization. This precise localization aids the physician with better target definition and thus allows for the most optimal treatment plan to the smallest volume of tissue. With our dedicated PET/CT Simulation suite, you are scanned in treatment position with the appropriate treatment aid devices obtaining all the image information in one setting.
Treatment Planning with PET/CT
At the Cancer Center, we are currently utilizing PET/CT simulation for a wide variety of sites including head/neck, esophageal, lung, gynecological, and others. Due to the accuracy needed for our stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) program, the majority of our SBRT patients will undergo this imaging procedure.
The motion of breathing can have a tremendous effect on the way volumes in the lung and upper abdomen are treated. This breathing motion can change the location, size and shape of internal structures. These changes are patient- and location-dependent.
In order to take into account this motion for radiotherapy planning, our physicians were among the first in the region to adopt 4-D (4-dimensional) imaging for radiotherapy planning with the aid of CT and one of the first in the nation to adopt 4-D imaging with PET. This technology gives the physician a clear picture of tumor and normal tissue motion during the respiratory cycle while the patient is breathing for customized margins and potentially respiratory gated treatment. This is technology is most crucial for areas in the lung and upper abdominal regions.
See what to expect during your first appointment.