Fox Chase Cancer Center First in Area to Offer Patients PET/CT Scanning; Latest and Most Sophisticated Technology in Imaging and Diagnosing Cancers

Sep 03, 2002, 01:00 ET from Fox Chase Cancer Center

    PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Fox Chase Cancer Center is the only
 institution in the Greater Delaware Valley now offering patients the newest in
 imaging technology called PET/CT scanning.  PET/CT is the fusion of two
 advanced technologies that combine detailed images of a patient's internal
 anatomy together with a unique view of cell metabolic function, aiding
 physicians in detecting and accurately diagnosing various cancers.
     "PET/CT is the most sophisticated imaging equipment available and we're
 very excited to now offer this new technology to our patients," says Lee P.
 Adler, MD, chief of nuclear medicine and senior member at Fox Chase Cancer
 Center.  "This technology will allow us to optimize the treatments we offer
 patients and ultimately achieve greater success in their care."
     PET stands for positron emission tomography and it detects changes in
 cellular function -- how cells are utilizing nutrients like sugar and oxygen.
 Areas with a high degree of metabolic activity have a greater chance of being
 cancerous.  A computerized tomography or CT scan allows physicians to see the
 internal or anatomical structures within the human body.  Together these two
 technologies make up the revolutionary PET/CT scan that enable Fox Chase
 physicians to view metabolic activity and pinpoint the location of abnormal
 lesions to target the disease more precisely.
     "When used alone the PET and CT scans are good diagnostic tools, but when
 combined, they're much superior," says Adler.  "The advantage here is the
 cancer is highlighted on the computer screen.  We're able to pinpoint the
 location of the cancer, determine the extent of the disease, and evaluate the
 effectiveness of the patient's treatment," says Adler.
     The PET/CT unit will be used at Fox Chase to determine if tumors are
 benign or malignant, to examine if prior therapy has been effective, and to
 detect if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.  This technology will
 be particularly useful to more accurately diagnose and stage cancers of the
 lung, colon, breast, esophagus, and head and neck.
     Before undergoing PET/CT, patients receive an injection of a sugar
 substance called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG).  This substance travels to cells
 throughout the entire body and is completely harmless.  Since most cancerous
 tumors are highly metabolic, more of the FDG sugar substance goes to the
 cancer than to the normal tissue.  During the procedure, the patient lies flat
 on a table that moves through a wide opening in the machine while the PET/CT
 images are taken.  The areas within the body that absorb the FDG sugar are
 highlighted on the PET/CT computer screen indicating that cancer is present.
     "We traditionally use CT scans to diagnose patients with cancer, however,
 we don't always know how extensive the disease is until we operate," says
 Melvyn Goldberg, MD, chief of Fox Chase's thoracic surgery program.  "With
 PET/CT, we'll be able to more accurately stage our patients and avoid
 diagnostic surgeries.  The PET/CT has the capability of finding cancers
 including those that have spread to other organs that are 8 millimeters in
 size, which is a huge improvement over CT alone," explains Goldberg.
     The PET/CT unit, purchased from General Electric, is located in Fox Chase
 Cancer Center's radiology department.  Currently, Medicare and most major
 insurance companies reimburse for PET/CT.  Breast cancer cases will be covered
 by Medicare beginning in October, 2002.
     Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer
 centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic
 and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of
 cancer; and community outreach.  For more information about Fox Chase
 activities, visit the Center's web site at or call
 1-888-FOX CHASE.
       Sue Montgomery Madden
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SOURCE Fox Chase Cancer Center