Confused about doc asking for a PET instead of a CT

Portal Forums Cancer Basics Imaging Issues Confused about doc asking for a PET instead of a CT

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March 12, 2016 at 7:36 am  #1273233    


Hi all,

Let me give you a brief history of my mother’s LC ordeal. Diagnosed with LC 10/1/14. Lobectomy on 10/15/14. A 7.5cm tumor was removed. Diagnosed as stage IIb NSCLC. No positive lymph nodes. Received 4 rounds of carboplatin and taxol. In November 2015, she started coughing up some blood, though not nearly as much as she was before she was diagnosed. It was such a small amount that it was thought that it could’ve been due to dryness of the air (cold weather, heat, etc). However, it did increase, so she had a CT scan in January of this year where four spots were seen. They were very, very small.

PET scan was ordered, and there was uptake in all 4 spots. I should note that these areas were TINY (as in millimeters). She had a wedge resection on the largest of the tiny spots a little over two weeks ago. Got results yesterday. It was organized pneumonia, but within that OP was a 4 millimeter (tiny) area of cancer, same kind as before (NSCLC).

So, her oncologist wants to do another PET in a month. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t want a CT instead, just to see if the areas are growing or shrinking. Additionally, it’s my understanding that OP is treated with steroids, but my mother has been given nothing. So my question is, what is another PET scan going to show? This next one will be 2 months out from the last one. It’s funny because someone on another forum said that PETs don’t show growth, and I had actually asked my mother’s doc about that when we got the last PET results. I asked if it had grown (I”m new to all this). And she said that PET doesn’t show growth, just uptake. So that’s the point in another one? Wouldn’t a CT be more beneficial?

March 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm  #1273238    
JimC Forum Moderator
JimC Forum Moderator

Hi Angelica,

Welcome to GRACE. It’s true that a standalone PET doesn’t show growth, although there are PET/CT scanners which combine both technologies, although the CT component has less resolution than a standalone CT scanner.

Some oncologists favor follow up with PET, but most do prefer CT.

Forum moderator

Jul 2008 Wife Liz (51/never smoker) Dx Stage IV NSCLC EGFR exon 19
4 cycles Carbo/alimta, 65% shrinkage
Tarceva maintenance
Mar 2010 progression, added Alimta, stable
Sep 2010 multiple brain mets, WBR
Oct 2010 large pericardial effusion, tamponade
Jan 2011 progression, start abraxane
Jun 2011-New liver, brain mets, add Tarceva
Oct 2011-Dx Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis; pulsed Tarceva
At rest Nov 4 2011
Since then:

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