The fight against cancer became even stronger when PET’s nuclear therapy detection technologies were combined with radiation oncology. With the enhanced detection capabilities of PET, or Positron Emission Tomography, our multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists can zero in on malignant tissues and utilize targeted cancer destroying radiation to spare healthy tissue around tumor sites.
PET and Radiation Oncology
What are PET and Radiation Oncology?
PET (Positron Emission Tomography)-CT has revolutionized cancer care, providing detailed information for diagnosis, planning surgery, treatment and aftercare. With PET-CT, doctors can detect tumors nearly three times smaller than masses visible on traditional scans. It enables us to better determine whether a mass is malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). This procedure can also be nuclear therapy or imaging oncology.
What doctors see in a PET-CT image that distinguishes cancer from healthy tissue is the accumulation of a mildly radioactive substance, injected prior to the exam, called a radiotracer in the cancerous tissue. Most radiotracers are glucose (sugar) based. Malignant tissues appear as bright spots on the scan because cancerous cells and tumors absorb, accumulate and metabolize sugar faster than that of healthy tissue. The PET-CT creates an image of the biochemical activity occurring within a tumor or in cancerous tissue. This detailed picture reveals the size, shape and location of a suspicious mass.
A powerful weapon in the battle against many types of cancer, radiation uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.
Because of its effectiveness in destroying cancer cells' ability to reproduce, it is widely used within oncology care. In fact, more than half of all cancer patients receive different forms of radiotherapy as part of their overall treatment.
A Powerful Combination of Cancer Care
Used in combination with PET image guidance, radiation can be delivered through a more precise and targeted method; this Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) partnership of technologies allows radiation dosage levels to be increased and target volumes (the 3-D areas to receive treatment) to be reduced. The result is, tumorous tissues receive a higher dose of radiation and healthy surrounding tissues receive very little.
IGRT enables our cancer specialists to effectively treat tumors even when they are close to vital structures like the spinal column, salivary glands, heart or lungs. Since exposure to healthy tissue is lessened, the results can substantially reduce side effects and improve post-treatment quality of life.