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PET Scan for Lung Cancer: Diagnosis and Staging

12 May, 2023

Blog author iconDr. Divya Nagpal
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Introduction

Cellular breakdown in the lungs is a serious and lethal sickness that influences a great many individuals all over the planet. It is important to diagnose lung cancer as early as possible so that treatment can begin promptly. One of the most effective ways to diagnose and stage lung cancer is through the use of PET scans.

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PET stands for positron emission tomography, which is a type of imaging technique that uses small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiotracers, to detect changes in the body's metabolic activity. PET scans are commonly used to detect and stage various types of cancer, including lung cancer.

In this blog, we will discuss the role of PET scans in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer.

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PET Scan Procedure

A PET scan is a non-invasive imaging test that involves the injection of a small amount of a radioactive material into the body. This material is typically a type of sugar that is taken up by cells in the body that are actively using energy, such as cancer cells.

Once the radiotracer is injected into the body, it travels to the area of interest, in this case, the lungs, and is absorbed by the cancer cells. The radiotracer emits a small amount of radiation, which is detected by the PET scanner. The PET scanner creates images based on the radiation emitted by the radiotracer.

Before the PET scan, the patient is usually asked to fast for several hours, and to avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 24 hours. The patient may also be given a contrast agent, which helps to highlight specific areas of the body on the PET scan images.

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PET Scan for Lung Cancer Diagnosis

PET scans are an effective tool for detecting lung cancer. They can identify areas of increased metabolic activity, which may indicate the presence of cancer cells. PET scans can also distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous cells, which can help to determine the extent of the cancer.

In addition to identifying lung cancer, PET scans can also help to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is known as metastasis. PET scans can detect metastases in other organs, such as the liver, bones, and brain.

However, a PET scan alone cannot diagnose lung cancer. Other diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer. Biopsies involve taking a small sample of tissue from the lung and examining it under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells.

PET Scan for Lung Cancer Staging

Once lung cancer has been diagnosed, it is important to determine the stage of the cancer. Staging refers to the extent and spread of the cancer. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps to determine the appropriate treatment options and predict the patient's prognosis.

PET scans are a valuable tool for staging lung cancer. They can help to determine the size and location of the tumour, as well as the extent of the cancer's spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs.

In addition to PET scans, other diagnostic tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scans, may also be used to stage lung cancer.

PET scan Vs CT scan for lung cancer

A CT (figured tomography) examine is one more imaging strategy ordinarily used to analyse and organise cellular breakdown in the lungs. CT examines utilise X-beams to make itemized pictures of the body. CT filters are especially helpful in identifying the size and area of lung knobs.

While CT scans are useful in detecting the presence of lung nodules, they are not always able to determine if a nodule is cancerous or not. A PET scan, on the other hand, can provide valuable information about the metabolic activity of a lung nodule, which can help distinguish between benign and malignant nodules.

Additionally, while CT scans can detect the size and location of lung nodules, they are not always able to detect small metastases or cancer that has spread beyond the lungs. A PET scan, on the other hand, can detect metastatic disease in other parts of the body, which is crucial for accurate staging of lung cancer.

Preparing for a PET scan

Before a PET scan, patients are usually required to fast for several hours to ensure accurate results. Patients may also be asked to avoid strenuous exercise for a day or two before the test, as exercise can affect the results of the scan.

Patients should inform their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, as PET scans can expose the foetus or infant to radiation.

Patients should also inform their doctor of any medications they are taking, as some medications can interfere with the results of the scan.

PET Scan for Lung Cancer Treatment

PET scans can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for lung cancer. After treatment, a PET scan can show whether the cancer has responded to treatment, and whether any residual cancer remains.

PET sweeps can likewise assist with recognizing repeat of cellular breakdown in the lungs. Repeat alludes to the arrival of malignant growth after treatment. A PET output can identify early indications of repeat, which can consider brief treatment and improved results.

Benefits and Risks of PET Scans for Lung Cancer

PET scans are a safe and effective tool for diagnosing and staging lung cancer. They are non-invasive and do not cause any pain. However, there are some risks associated with PET scans, including exposure to radiation and the use of a radioactive material.

The amount of radiation exposure from a PET scan is relatively small, and the benefits of the scan usually outweigh the risks. However, it is important to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as radiation exposure can be harmful to a developing foetus or infant.

The use of a radioactive material in a PET scan also carries some risks. Some people may have an allergic reaction to the material, which can cause itching, hives, or difficulty breathing. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, can occur, which can be life-threatening.

In addition, some people may experience nausea or vomiting after receiving the radioactive material. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.

It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of a PET scan with your doctor before undergoing the procedure. Your doctor can help you determine if a PET scan is the right choice for your individual situation.

Conclusion

PET scans are a valuable tool for diagnosing and staging lung cancer. They can detect the presence of cancer cells and determine the extent and spread of the cancer. PET scans can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and detect recurrence of lung cancer.

While PET scans are generally safe and effective, they do carry some risks, including exposure to radiation and the use of a radioactive material. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of a PET scan with your doctor before undergoing the procedure.

Early detection and treatment of lung cancer can improve outcomes and increase the chances of survival. If you are experiencing symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can help determine if further testing, such as a PET scan, is necessary.

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FAQs

A PET scan for lung cancer typically takes about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the area being scanned and the type of radiotracer being used.