PET-CT  (Positron Emission Tomography)

Patients who receive a breast cancer diagnosis may undergo a PET-CT scan (Positron Emission Tomography/Computerised Tomography) to detect spread of cancerous cells inside their body.

This technology determines whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (typically in the axilla) or other parts of the body such as the skeleton (metastatic breast cancer). Specialists may also perform a PET-CT scan on patients with metastatic breast cancer to gauge treatment response or if they suspect a recurrence of a previous breast cancer.

How does a PET-CT scan work?

You will be given an injection via a vein in the arm consisting of synthetic sugar anda small amount of radioactive material. You will then be asked to rest quietly in an uptake room for one-hour. Because cancer cells are more active than normal cells, they take up more of the radioactive synthetic sugar. become . You will then lie down on the PET scanner table– remaining as still as possible throughout the procedure – as the scanner runs the length of your body, capturing any areas of increased “activity” or hot spots which may indicate potential sites of cancer spread.

The scan will typically take approximately 25 minutes to complete but allow for two hours for the entire appointment. A specialist radiologist who is proficient in interpreting PET/CT scans will review the images and report your scan. This is then double-read by a second specialist radiologist, therefore your results may take up to 24 to 48 hours before it is formalised and available for your doctor.

What do I need to do before my PET-CT scan?

Once an appointment has been confirmed, one of our PET/CT team members will contact you with specific instructions for your scan, ask you some pertinent medical questions and let you know where to present for your scan. be required to fast – except for water – for six hours before the procedure. We also advise our patients to keep warm in the winter months, not to exercise or perform any strenuous activities within 24-hours of a scan.

Upon arrival at our clinic, you will be asked to get changed into a loose, comfortable gown in preparation for your scan and a nuclear medicine technician will check in with you and answer any queries you might have before commencing.