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PET CT Scanning

What is a PET CT Scan?

  • A PET CT scan takes CT pictures of the structures of your body.
  • At the same time, a mildly radioactive drug shows up  areas of your body where the cells are more active than normal.
  • The scanner combines both of these types of information.
  • Allowing your radiologist to see any changes in the activity of cells and know exactly where the changes are happening.

What is a PET CT scan used for?

  • Diagnose a cancer
  • Stage a cancer
    Show whether a lump is cancer or not
  • Show whether a cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • Help your doctors decide on the best treatment for your cancer
  • Show how well your treatment is working
  • Show the the differnce between scar tissue and active cancer tissue After you have had treatment for cancer, a scan may show that there are still some signs of the cancer left. But this may not be active cancer. It could be scar tissue left over from cancer killed off by your treatment. A PET-CT scan can sometimes show whether this tissue is active cancer or not.


What does having a PET CT Scan involve?

  • Your doctor or the scanning department will give you instructions on how to prepare for your scan.
  • You should not normally have anything to eat for 6 hours beforehand, although you can usually drink as much as you like, but you must avoid milk and sugary drinks.
  • Unless you are told otherwise, you should carry on taking any medicines prescribed for you by your doctor. 
  • When you arrive, check in with the receptionist so the radiographers know you are there. 
  •  You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and take off all your jewellery and any other metallic objects.
  • Your doctor may want you to take a dose of diazepam (Valium) to relax the muscles around your neck and shoulders. This can give clearer pictures on the scan.
  • You will have a small tube (cannula) put into one of the veins in the back of your hand or arm. Then you have the radioactive drug (tracer) as an injection through the tube.
  • You lie down to have the tube put in and have the radioactive tracer and for at least one hour afterwards. You will be ready for your scan when your body has absorbed the radioactive drug.
  • You then go to the toilet to empty your bladder.
  • Then you go into the scanning room.
  • You lie on your back on the scanning bed and the bed moves through the scanner.
  • The scan takes between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on which parts of your body are scanned. The scan is not particularly noisy but the computers and air conditioning make a constant background noise.
  • You need to stay as still as you can during the scan. You can talk to the scan operator through an intercom if you need to.
  • Some people feel a bit claustrophobic ('closed in') when they are having a scan. If you think you are likely to feel this way, tell the radiographers before the day of your appointment.





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