Diagnostic Imaging for Cancer

PET-CT for Diagnosis and Treatment Monitoring

Best Scan for Cancer Detection

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One scan is all you need to get the most accurate information about your cancer, fast.

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Pillar 1: Get the Most Precise Diagnosis with PET/CT

If you think you might have cancer, it’s critical that you know for sure and as soon as possible – any delays can mean missing early treatment options, or worse. Likewise, a cancer diagnosis based on the results of an ultrasound, CT scan, blood test, or MRI might be incorrect. These imaging tools are known for producing false positives and false negatives.

Due to budget constraints, standard cancer treatment uses ultrasound and CT scans as the predominant imaging tools to detect cancer. Unfortunately, these tools are particularly problematic when diagnosing cancer, for several reasons.

Problems with Standard Imaging Tools

  • They provide very limited imaging
    • The images they produce are unclear
    • The images do not differentiate between healthy tissue, scar tissue, benign tissue, and tumour tissue
  • They produce many false negatives and false positives
    • They don’t show exactly where the cancer is in your body
    • They don’t show how aggressive the cancer is
  • Your treatment plan will be more likely to fail
    • Your surgeon won’t know exactly where to operate, or whether they’ve removed all the cancer
    • Surgeons may miss tumours entirely, when taking a biopsy sample without the use of PET/CT imaging
    • Your oncologist won’t know how to prioritize treatment
    • Your oncologist will need to base your treatment plan on older diagnostics, rather than newer technologies that have greater accuracy
PET CT scan

Benefits of PET/CT Scans

It is known that treatment plans, based on ultrasounds and/or CT scans, are often incorrect: in one well-documented study, getting a PET/CT scan "caused a change of staging and treatment plan in 25-33% of cases.” In another study on prostate cancer patients, "PET/CT scanning led to a change in planned management in 51% of patients." According to the BC Cancer Agency, "in up to 87% of cases in which a patient has had a PET/CT scan, the test leads to changes in decisions by oncologists for planned cancer treatment, to avoid over-treatment with harsh side effects or under-treatment."

That’s why precision oncology uses the most advanced imaging tool to detect cancer – the PET/CT scan. With PET/ CT technology, your oncologist will know everything they need in order to create an optimal treatment plan for your form of cancer.

  • What Does a PET/CT Scan Do?
    • Assists your treatment team in diagnosing cancer accurately
    • Assists your treatment team in identifying the stage of a cancer
    • Assists your treatment team in making decisions about whether you can have surgery to remove your cancer
    • Assists your treatment team in making decisions about the best treatment for your form of cancer
    • Assists your treatment team in determining how well the treatment is working
    • Assists your treatment team in finding the place in the body where your cancer first started to grow (primary cancer)
    • Assists your treatment in identifying whether your cancer has returned
    • Assists your treatment team in monitoring your treatment on an ongoing basis
    • Assists your treatment team in identifying the difference between scar tissue and active cancer tissue

Can You Request a PET/CT Scan?

Yes, and we highly recommend doing so. If your doctor isn’t willing to order you a PET/CT scan, you can contact us at CTOAM, and we will help you get one.

The majority of cancer patients are sent for a blood test, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, without their doctor ever mentioning the option of a PET/CT scan. Standard cancer treatment hasn’t yet caught up to the technological advances in imaging tools, and so PET/CT remains outside the mainstream – even though scientific studies show that use of PET/CT machines in diagnosing and staging cancer is both cost-effective and justified, due to their accuracy.

  • Research demonstrates that many treatment plans change drastically after a cancer patient receives a PET/CT scan: "Depending on the tumor subtype, changes in therapeutic management of between 15% and 40% based on PET or PET/CT findings have been described."

PET/CT Wait Times

  • Lack of PET/CT machines

    The lack of PET/CT accessibility is caused by a lack of equipment. Canada has only 39 PET/CT machines in the entire country. About half of those in the province of Quebec. British Columbia has two. Europe has around 350 PET/CT machines; 70 are in Germany.

The United States, meanwhile, has over 2,000 PET/CT machines, and Medicare provides reimbursement. The more scans that are done, the lower the cost is to patients. That’s why we are striving to ensure that PET/CT machines become a part of standard cancer treatment in Canada and beyond.

Get a PET/CT Scan

Fortunately, British Columbia has one of the only private PET/CT clinics in Canada, which means that we’re able to arrange for our clients to get a PET/CT scan, often within just 3 days.

So if you or your loved one thinks they might have cancer, or have been diagnosed with cancer, please email or call us today. Our Cancer Care Research and Advocacy Specialists can help you get a PET/CT scan within a week or sooner, and you will know for sure whether you have cancer – and if you do, how to move forward with the best treatment.

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