How does a PET scan work to detect cancer?
The PET scan uses a mildly radioactive drug to show up areas of your body where cells are more active than normal. It’s used to help diagnose some conditions including cancer. It can also help to find out where and whether cancer has spread. PET scans are often combined with CT scans to produce more detailed images.
How long does a PET scan take?
How long does a PET scan take? After the radiotracer is injected into a vein, it usually takes up to one hour to travel throughout the body and be absorbed into the organs or tissues that are being examined. The PET scan itself may take another 30 to 60 minutes. Heart and brain studies take less time for imaging.
Do all cancers show up on PET scan?
Not all cancers show up on a PET scan. PET scan results are often used with other imaging and lab test results. Other tests are often needed to find out whether an area that collected a lot of radioactive material is non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
What are the side effects of having a PET scan?
If undergoing a combination PET-CT scan, the iodine-based contrast dye used for the CT component can cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, headache, itching, flushing, and mild rash. In rare cases, a serious, all-body allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur.