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Question about PET scans?


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Hi everyone,

My dad just got back from his appointment and the oncologists are still unsure as to whether my dad has new cancer or not! They said the best way to find out is through a PET scan but that it may not be definative enough to determine treament.

This is not covered under our provincial medical plan and would be at a cost to us of $3000...worth every penny in my mind if it can give us an answer.

My question is to all that have had a PET scan done.

Did you get definative results or were they inconclusive?

$3000 is a lot of money to spend if it gets us no further with knowing what is going on!

I appreciate your help.


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I've had both. My latest PET does not light up as cancer either because it is scar tissue from previous surgery or because it is so small that it is too small to light up (3mm). So, doctors have been watching it the last year between CT scans and PET. So far, no change. So, in a way this is inconclusive.

Maybe the hospital can work out a payment plan?

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It is about 80-90% accurate. One problem is that sometimes it is good to get multiple scans so they can be compared to one another.

Then the changes can be seen - (hot spots become hotter / bigger or they become colder / smaller)

It *seems* like a serial spiral ct scan may provide the info. They cost about $450 in the US. If you got two, three in a row it would be cheaper.

It would show if the tumor is getting bigger or smaller or staying the same.

Just as Alisa said they compare multiple pet scans to see changes - one pet scan will be less conclusive than multiple (I am guessing here)

Have any cat scans been done? What is causing them to think something is cancer or not?

My mom had a PET scan and hers gave a false negative of the mediastinal lymph nodes I am pretty sure it was accurate for a 3cm tumor

I think the main advantage of the PET scan is that it can be a whole body scan. I *think* a CT scan doesnt see the whole picture as easily.

PET scans are used to look for distant mets to determine if someone is a candidate for surgery.

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Correction: A full-body CT scan also scans the whole body like a PET scan. The difference is that a PET scan shows metabolic activity whereas a CT scan only shows basically the size/shape.

Most Drs don't recommend full body CT scans but places in the US are popping up all over the place. They cost around $700-$1300 from what I read.

I am not recommending a full body scan - just saying it might be an option for you but I would get a lot more info before deciding.

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Hi Tracy,

Sorry this is going on with your Dad.

My PET scan was negative, but I was told by the radiologist that a postitive scan doesn't mean you have cancer and a negative one doesn't mean that you don't. Although it was negative, two weeks later I had to go for another CT scan to observe that the mass was getting smaller. It was at that point that the "benign mass" was determined.

I agree that they are supposed to be quite accurate. In my case , the insurance covered most of the cost which was $2200. If it didn't I would have found a way to get the money to do the PET but they actually offered payment terms to their patients.

I learned much about PET scans prior to mine because the son of a co-worker of mine is a technician/radiologist who now works for the company that manufactures PET machinery as well as other diagnostic machines. I picked his brain for a zillion questions before I actually had mine done. He is based in Boston and the main office is in Belgium.

There are false positives and false negatives as well, with false negatives being far less.

I chose the PET scan versus the surgical biopsy mostly in the hopes of not ever having to have the biopsy done, but went into the PET knowing I still may have had to do both.

The PET is supposed to have the ability to diagnose cancer, stage it, and in some cases, help determine what future treatments will work and won't.

I agree with Don, I'd opt for the PET.

Wishing you and your family the best.


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If ribs are close to the surface, wouldn't a surgical biopsy give you a definitive answer right away? Seems to me that only histology would give an answer re: new lesions.

I've been followed very well and never had a PET.

PET does indicate metabolic activity. Period.

Just my two cents.


Prayers always,


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