Feb. 2, 2004
latest high-tech imaging tool for cancer diagnosis
Positron Emission Tomography (P.E.T.) scanning technology
the first of its kind in the Upper Peninsula
General Health System has added an exciting high-tech diagnostic
to its imaging capabilities.
General Health System is now offering Positron Emission Tomography
(P.E.T.) scanning. The scanner, shown above, can detect small,
cancerous tumors and subtle changes in the brain and heart.
scanning displays the metabolic functioning of organs and
tissues, while X-ray, CT scans and MRI are used to image
Department at Marquette General is now offering
Positron Emission Tomography (P.E.T.) scanning, placing
itself among some of the leading healthcare
institutions in the country that offer this type of technology. MGHS is one
of the first health systems in Michigan outside of the Detroit area to offer
A P.E.T. scanner can detect small, cancerous tumors and subtle changes in
the brain and heart.
Since P.E.T. can identify the presence of abnormal biochemistry,
it improves the ability of a Marquette General physician to accurately diagnose
active tumors, heart disease and brain disorders. This technology allows
to treat these diseases earlier and more accurately than if they waited for
results from other detection modalities.
Dr. Todd Bostwick, Medical Director of Body Imaging at Marquette General
Hospital, explains that P.E.T displays the metabolic functioning of organs
X-ray, CT and MRI are used to image body structure.
“P.E.T. helps physicians identify cells that grow at a very fast rate.
It can detect unusual changes in cells and tissues,” Dr. Bostwick said. “In
cancer patients, changes in cell metabolism occur before a tumor mass forms.
P.E.T. often identifies the presence of disease earlier than other tools such
as CT or MRI. In many cancer types, early detection of cancer has been linked
to the success of the patient’s outcome.”
MGHS has the services of a mobile P.E.T. scanner every Friday. Andy Koutouzos,
Director of Nuclear Medicine at Marquette General, said the schedule may
expand to Saturdays at a future date. The P.E.T., Koutouzos notes, can scan
six patients in one day.
Studies show that P.E.T. imaging may assist physicians in more accurately
determining the degree of spread of malignant tumors.
“With a P.E.T. scan, we’re able to determine what treatment or treatments
options are most likely to be successful in managing the disease,” Dr.
P.E.T. can help detect recurrent brain tumors and tumors of the lung, colon,
breast, lymph nodes, skin, and other organs.
This is how the process works:
In most cases, a patient who lives more than 50 miles from Marquette will
be required to stay in Marquette the night before their P.E.T. scan. (Beacon
a hospitality house located a block and a half from Marquette General, is
an option. For more information, access its web site at www.upbeaconhouse.org or call 906-225-7100. The Hospitality Program rooms at Marquette General
another option.) The overnight stay is necessary because of the short half-life
of a mildly radioactive tracer, called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), that is
injected into the patient prior to the scan.
The FDG, which emits particles called positrons, travels throughout the patient’s
body, and collects in abnormal cells and tissues targeted for examination.
The clusters "light up" in the machine, and the P.E.T. detects
where the positrons are being emitted from the patient.
“If an area is cancerous,” Dr.
Min said, “the signals will
be stronger than in an area that is normal.”
The scanner records these signals and transforms them into pictures of chemistry
and function. The results are interpreted by Drs. Bostwick and radiologist
Steve Min, and forwarded to the referring physician.
“P.E.T. inspects all organs of the body for cancer in a single examination
with a whole body scan,” Dr. Bostwick said. “Using P.E.T., we can
provide oncologists with the ‘full story.’ We can pinpoint where
the cancer is and how aggressive it is.”
Medical oncologist/hematologist Dr.
Cathleen Chen said P.E.T. provides physicians
additional life-saving information to help map a course for treatment. P.E.T.
is most useful, she added, when used as an adjunct to the patient’s
CT scans, MRI scan and positive X-rays.
According to Dean Jackson, program director of the Imaging Department at
Marquette General, Medicaid and many private payers now cover the cost of
a P.E.T. scan.
While not all cancer types are eligible for P.E.T. insurance reimbursement,
the cancers that affect the largest number of people are. These include lung,
colorectal, lymphoma, melanoma, head & neck, esophageal and restaging
of breast cancer.
P.E.T.can also provide information to locate and evaluate diseases of the
brain and heart. P.E.T. imaging, Dr. Min said, can show the area of the brain
causes a patient's seizures.
“It can also be used to evaluate other brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's,
Huntington's and Parkinson's,” he said.
Those with questions are encouraged to call Koutouzos at 906-225-3328 or 1-800-562-9753,