• How often do you get a pet scan after you're done with treatments?

    Asked by buckhunter on Monday, January 20, 2020

    How often do you get a pet scan after you're done with treatments?

    I am a couple years out from surgery and finished treatments some time ago. My doctor has told me he doesn't think it's necessary to have a regular PET. Also said my insurance wouldn't approve it if it's not an emergency or if there are symptoms showing of a recurrence. I'm just checking, does this seem normal as far as your experience?

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Since PETs involve ionizing radiation, it sounds reasonable. However, a second opinion/consult with another doctor/facility would be useful. Opinions honestly vary and there is not 100% uniformity as to the correct procedure. If you can, I would counsel you to get a second opinion at an NCI designated cancer cancer center. - assuming that you are not currently at one. If not, you may find the closest facility here:

      about 1 month ago
    • Teachertina's Avatar

      My oncologist did ct scans every 6 months for a few years since my other kidney was at risk. That’s what caught the recurrence in my lung during the third year. Every 6 months some more then once a year for 9 years. Then another recurrence in the other and only kidney. Back to every 6 months again for now. I’m glad they keep catching this early so I don’t mind the scans. I hope you can get the scans paid for. Your doctors will have to help you by saying they are medically necessary! Kidney cancer patients like us must be monitored!

      about 1 month ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      After my last head and neck treatment was over I had a PET every 6 months for 2 years, then went to once a year for 3 more years, after that it was not done. I was kind of addicted to the scans for the assured feeling they give me. It's reassuring to have your body looked at and NOT see anything to be concerned with. My oncologist says I don't need one with this new diagnosis, but she will if my insurance will pay. I don't think they will, and at this point, I'm not going to push at this time. After this surgery heals we will see what they think about a scan.

      about 1 month ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      I had a PET scan in 2012. My oncologist doesn't like them nor order them.

      about 1 month ago
    • JaneA's Avatar

      I am a 5-year Stage IV rectal cancer survivor. I have only had two PET scans - a year after SBRT radiation for a lung met to confirm that the nodule was dead, and that what was showing up on the CT scan was scar tissue. The PET scan confirmed that the nodule was dead - it didn't light up.

      The problem with PET scans is the high rate of false positives. That first PET scan lit up in my tailbone area - "suggestive of residual disease of metastatic recurrence." That area was the site of my rectal cancer surgery. So my medical team ordered an MRI of that area to see if there was cause for concern. It turned out that my uterus has tilted backward after the removal of my rectum. The soft tissue was my uterus.

      So to simply answer your question. PET scans are not usually routinely used for surveillance after treatment ends.

      about 1 month ago
    • PeggyRCC's Avatar

      This refers only to kidney cancer, as it has been shown that PET scans--different than PET/CT scans--usually do not give adequate information about kidney cancer primaries or metastases. Why is this? The PET scan shown the unusual cellular activity of most cancer cells in comparison to normal cells, causing them to "light up". Since kidney cancer is generally fairly slow-growing, and not as 'active' as other cancers, it can be missed by a PET scan. The combination PET/CT is helpful, but the CT with contrast is the 'gold standard". Since the contrast may concern some doctors as to its impact on the kidneys, be ready to flush your system immediately and thoroughly post the CT by drinking lots of water. Also prior to the CT, be well-hydrated until the time you are told NOT to drink anything but the contrast.

      about 1 month ago

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