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Hi Bill,

A "PET" test is another type of scan designed to help determine if there is a malignancy present in the body. A tracer dye containing glucose, usually one called "FDG", is injected and allowed to circulate in your body for an hour or so, and then the scan takes place. The expectation is that any area with malignant (cancerous) cells will show increased uptake of that tracer dye, resulting in a raised uptake value (often referred to as SUV) for any areas with cancerous cells. In pictures from a PET scan, the areas with increased uptake look as if they are lit up.

There are some issues with PET scans - for example, the entire brain normally has increased tracer (glucose) uptake in comparison to other parts of the body, so it can be hard to use a PET scan for the brain. Same sometimes applies to areas with inflammation for various reasons.

A PET scan is often done in these scenarios:

1. When lung cancer has been diagnosed, a PET may be used to look at the rest of the body for any spread before deciding if the patient is a candidate for surgery to the lung.

2. When a routine chest x-ray or CT scan shows "something new" in the anatomy of a cancer patient, a PET may be used to help determine if it is malignant.

3. Some doctors use PET scans routinely to monitor cancer patients after treatment.

Hoped this helped to answer your question!


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