PET/CT is the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) combined with the Computed Tomography (CT) imaging.
The PET/CT imaging is an acquisition of the molecular uptake and anatomical information in one image. PET/CT is not a radiation treatment technology. Rather, it is an advanced imaging technique that provides your radiation oncologist with an invaluable tool to determine areas of active cancer versus normal tissues for the Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) or Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT). One of the greatest advantages of the PET/CT imaging is the potential to increase the radiation dose to smaller areas of cancer tissues while sparing the nearby structures.
How does the PET/CT scanner work?
A PET/CT scanner provides the best of both worlds: CT imaging which produces excellent detailed structural information, and PET scanning 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, our patients can be comfortably scanned in the treatment position with the appropriate treatment aid devices providing images for the radiation treatment planning.
Treatment Planning with PET/CT
At the Cancer Center, we are currently utilizing PET/CT simulation for a wide variety of treatment 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 organs motion from breathing can have a tremendous effect on the way volumes in the lung and upper abdomen are treated. The breathing motion can change the location, size and shape of the internal structures and tumor. 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 (four dimensional) imaging for the radiotherapy treatment planning with CT, and one of the first in the nation to adopt 4-D imaging with PET. The 4-D imaging technology gives our physicians a clear picture of tumor and normal tissue motion during the respiratory cycle for customized and potentially respiratory gated treatments. This technology is the most crucial and helpful for treatment areas in lungs and upper abdomen.
See what to expect during your first appointment.