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PET scans useful for some cancer treatment, but how do patients fare?
Date:11/12/2007

Positron emission tomography or PET scans can help clinicians diagnose and treat some cancers, but it is not clear yet whether the imaging technology helps people with cancer live longer and healthier lives, according to a comprehensive review by the U.K. National Health Service.

PET scans are one of the latest tools used to detect and determine a cancers activity in the body. PET is generally more accurate than other imaging technologies such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Using tiny radioactive elements, a PET scan can zero in on the distinctive biochemical fingerprints that distinguish cancerous cells from normal tissue.

The most common type of PET scan, called FDG-PET, appears to lead to the best therapy for patients who have a newer diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer and in those who have undergone treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma. FDG-PET can also help identify the best treatment for patients with colorectal cancer, and it can detect small, potentially malignant lung growths called solitary pulmonary nodules, say review authors led by Karen Facey.

For other cancers, PET can often improve the accuracy of detecting a tumor, but it is unclear how this affects a patients treatment and ultimately their outcome, said Facey, an evidence-based health policy researcher.

The most reliable evidence would suggest that FDG-PET is cost-effective [in the United Kingdom] in non-small cell lung cancer and Hodgkins lymphoma, she added.

Facey said this is the first comprehensive review of PET for determining how well patients are responding to chemotherapy and for determining the sites for radiation therapy.

It has identified many interesting new studies, but these are difficult to interpret given their different designs, so theres a real need for larger, better quality studies of this kind to be performed in the U.K., she said.

The review is published in the la
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Contact: Lisa Esposito
hbns-editor@cfah.org
Center for the Advancement of Health
Source:Eurekalert

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