Reporter: Shannon Samson
Web Producer: Jason Bailey
A Computerized Tomography Scan shows the body's anatomy, a Positron Emission Tomography Scan shows how the body is functioning; both have their benefits and limitations as diagnostic tools.
But together, they're giving doctors a clearer view of what's going on, allowing them to see the body's metabolism and structure in the same picture.
CT-Scans provide detailed information about the location, size and shape of various lesions. When doctors look at the test results, they can see if you have a mass, but they won't know what it is. Killol Thakore, M.D. of nuclear medicine-radiology says, "You will be able to see that it is an abnormal mass or some abnormality, but you don't know whether it is cancer or not."
Thakore adds, "It could be something which is not cancer."
Physicians can more acutely detect with a Pet scans use a radioactive molecule similar to glucose called FDG.
Cancer cells absorb it, and turn dark in the picture.
Unfortunately, cost prohibits doctors from having free access to the machine that produces these images.
"It costs somewhere around $1.8- to 2-million."
A better investment is new technology that combines CT and PET scans into a single device. The images allow doctors to determine the best place to perform a biopsy of the lesion and they improve your diagnoses' capabilities.
"You'll be able to determine an earlier diagnosis, you'll be able to see whether the cancer is responding to the chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or not," says Thakore.
"It saves patients time."
Thakore adds, "Doctors get all the anatomical and biological information they need and you only have to sit through one test."
ST. Mary's will have access to a combined PET/CT imaging scanner by the end of the month, but it will have to share the machine with other facilities.