OncoCare Cancer Centre

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Patient Education

The Role of PET-CT in Staging Cancer and Guiding Treatment
The Role of PET-CT in Staging Cancer and Guiding Treatment

Virtually every cancer patient worries about the same thing: what stage is my cancer? In other words, how far has the disease progressed and what can be done? Once the cancer stage is known, treatment can be tailored specifically for each individual. 

A PET-CT scan, also known as a Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography, is a highly sensitive imaging modality that can detect very small lesions. It’s especially useful in cancer because it can reveal not only the presence of cancer but also provide some information about the grade (likely aggressiveness) of the tumour. PET-CT can also assist in determining if the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. 

In short, PET-CT plays a vital role in staging cancer and therefore guiding the correct treatment. Read on to learn more about how this important test works.

How Does PET-CT Work? 

In a PET-CT, a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein and allowed to circulate through the body. Cancer cells absorb more glucose than normal cells so they “light up” on the images produced by the scan. The CT part of the scan produces detailed images of structures inside the body, such as organs, bones, and soft tissue. These CT images are then combined with the PET images to provide a more complete picture. 

A PET-CT is highly sensitive scan but it is important that the test is interpreted by an experienced radiologist and oncologist to correlate the imaging findings with the clinical presentation. In addition, not all cancers take up glucose so they may not be detectable on a PET scan. PET-CT is still an important tool that can assist doctors in making cancer treatment decisions. 

Cancer Treatment Options after a PET-CT

After a PET-CT scan is used to stage cancer, it is important that patients receive the correct treatment options based on the findings. In some cases, surgery may be recommended in order to remove the tumour. However, in other cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be the best option. It is vital that patients consult with their oncologist in order to determine the best course of treatment for their cancer. Since the PET-CT scan is a valuable tool in cancer staging, it can help to guide the cancer treatment for patients based on the findings. With care provided by a qualified medical team, patients can be assured that they are getting the best possible care for their cancer.

Quality Care for Cancer Treatment

OncoCare Cancer Centre is one of the largest private oncology practices in Singapore, with experienced doctors who can diagnose and treat all forms of cancer. Our integrated and specialised facilities enable us to provide quality care for cancer patients, with easy and quick access to the latest, comprehensive scans and tests, like the PET-CT scan, alongside cutting-edge laboratory services. Most of our scans are arranged as soon as possible, on the same or next working day together with active patient communication so minimise waiting times and allay anxiety. We are also equipped with radiotherapy facilities, and our specialists and nursing staff are committed to providing effective treatment options and personalised care. Make an appointment with us for better cancer care today.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:
Dr Angela Pang
MBBS (Singapore)
Grad Dip (GRM)
M Med (Internal Med)