• Pet scan. What is it like? Going to Baylor cancer. Dr took out 2 growths below pancreas. What stage do drs start treatment?

    Asked by Sacaver on Saturday, February 9, 2019

    Pet scan. What is it like? Going to Baylor cancer. Dr took out 2 growths below pancreas. What stage do drs start treatment?

    5 Answers from the Community

    5 answers
    • po18guy's Avatar

      At least in the lymphoma world, PETs are used for staging, grading and to develop treatment strategy. Normally, this is post-diagnosis. However your lesions are probably much deeper and riskier to biopsy. If you have ever had a CT scan, from the patient's perspective a pet is basically the same. The difference being that a blood sample is collected from you, combined with radioactive glucose, then re-infused for the scan. All done through an I.V. The irradiated glucose then circulates in your bloodstream. This simple sugar is the gasoline of our cells' life and reproduction. We live on it.

      But why irradiate it? All cells need and depend upon sugar, some more than others. Cancers "generally" use much more sugar as they are rapidly dividing and thus more of the irradiated glucose will be sucked into any tumors. As compared with normal cells, they are "gas hogs." This, in a cancer patient (which you are not at this point) causes those tumors to appear as radioactive 'hot spots' which, when the image it taken, glow in a range from deep red to almost white, depending on the amount of glucose they are using. The image or 'picture' of sorts is made of these colors and locations and that is the PET scan.

      For those who have had late-stage lymphoma for example, the body lights up like a Christmas tree to indicate the multiple tumors associated with most lymphomas. Our brains always light up, because they are extremely active. Our livers also - and the liver is used as the control "color" in determining just how active ("avid") the glucose uptake is in the suspect areas.

      The numbers are given as "SUV" which stands for standard uptake value. Normal cells take up (uptake) sugar at a fairly well known rate. Regarding the SUV of the suspect areas, the lower the number, the better. Higher numbers are more suspect, but still may not be cancer - they are perhaps inflamed, infected or healing.

      Total radiation is quite low in PETs. I have had about 20 of them. The caution is that you must avoid young children, airport scanners and possibly small pets for some hours afterward - until the radiation is excreted from your body and/or reduced by its natural half-life.

      12 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      I've only had one PET scan and it was at the beginning of my journey - when we were still trying to figure out if I had cancer or not.

      The hardest part was getting insurance approval. It took a little bit of time for that to come through. Past that, all I remember is having to get there early, getting an IV of some kind of glucose and I think a sedative so that I would lie still. Seems like I had to stay in a dark room for a while as the glucose circulated through my body and then they wheeled me in for the scan. I don't remember anything about the scan itself.

      Obviously, I can't remember too much about mine, which tells you it was nothing to worry about :)

      Baylor is a good hospital, you'll be in good hands :) (Are you going to the one in Dallas off of Gaston?)

      12 months ago
    • Sacaver's Avatar

      Yes the Baylor off Gaston....dr moshe Levy

      12 months ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      This question is under follicular lymphoma. Have you been diagnosed with it, even in the past? Is it suspected that these lesions are a recurrence? As to treatment, many factors enter in. The stage does, although far less than in other cancers. The grade, certainly. The number and location of tumors is a factor. If transformation to aggressive DLBCL is suspected, that also enters in. However, an many cases, if one is asymptomatic and no other risk factors are present, it is placed under active surveillance, i.e. watch and wait.

      The decision of when to treat follicular is still controversial. Treating it too early is suspected of triggering a response which will accelerate its grade, or it transformation to aggressive lymphoma. It is a balancing act and can only go on a case by case basis, taking the above factors and many others into consideration.

      12 months ago
    • Ashleybv's Avatar

      I've had 2x PET scans under my belt: I had to fast 6-8 hours before, so it was helpful for me to schedule in the morning so I wasn't hangry for part of the day. I was also told not to work out two days prior. A tech (I think) started an IV line, takes a drop of blood from the IV line to test my blood sugar level, and injected me with the "dye" that lights up the scan.

      Then I went into a dimly lit room drink a flavored, room-temperature barium drink (also got a nice warm blanket). I've had banana and mochachino (taste isn't horrible, kinda sour. there's a berry flavored one that I should have picked because the drink is kind of sour). I had to drink about 8oz of the 16oz container. I had to lay still in the recliner for about 30-45 minutes without a book or my phone.

      I had wear clothes without metal pieces (like on my bra or zipper). You go into a room and lay on a narrow table with a strap above your head for me to hold on to. They also gave me a cushion to put under my legs to lessen the stress on my lower back.

      I'm 5'1 so the scan was about 20 minutes--so I'm guessing the taller you are the longer the scan. I don't consider myself claustrophobic, but I have my eyes closed the whole time because I might freak out and have a nervous twitch (not good for the scan because you have to lay still, but you can breathe). I thought about each year in grade school to keep my mind off the scanning. I think the sounds I heard sounds like robots/swirling.

      I had to wait for my appointment with my oncologist to go over the scan--usually a few days.

      11 months ago

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