Yesterday I went for my PET (positron emission tomography) scan.
While MRI and CT scans allow views of the anatomy and organs, PET scans allow a view of metabolic activity. Thus, for metastatic breast cancer, physicians use PET scans to check the progression of cancer, which shows up as hot spots, or bright spots. PET scans can show early activity of cancer sooner than other tests. Unlike CT scans, PET scans expose a patient to a minimal amount of radiation. PET scans are useful in showing cancer activity for certain cancers, including breast, and certain conditions caused by neurological disorders and heart disease. As Dr. Brunetti points out in her article, however, and specifically with bone mets in metastatic bone cancer, a PET scan is more effective with detecting certain types of lesions than others. Therefore, oncologists will use a variety of detection tools depending on the type of mets they are seeking to discover or measure.
I stopped at the chemo infusion center so they could hook up the proper needle for the PET scan, so the tech for the scan didn’t have to deal with that. He simply gave me the radioactive solution through my PowerPort and put me in a quiet, dark room to rest for nearly an hour so the radiopharmaceutical glucose solution could travel to its destinations for visibility on the scan. After that it was just a matter of lying on the narrow bed and moving through the doughnut for several sliced views of my pelvis and chest. The scanning took about 30 minutes and was uneventful. The tech was thoughtful in letting me know how much of the test had elapsed, and, unlike the noisy and more claustrophobic MRI, this scanning was actually relaxing–as long as you don’t keep wondering what the machine is detecting as it scans your body. I meditated throughout the test to keep my thoughts positive.