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Detecting Cancer's Spread

Study finds PET-CT combination better than PET alone

THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A combination of positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) detects the spread of cancer better than PET alone.

That's the finding of a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

The research, presented today at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago, found PET-CT was better able to distinguish cancerous from normal tissue and better able to locate where metastases have spread in the body.

The researchers used a scanner that fuses CT and PET technology. CT provides anatomical detail, while PET detects the metabolic activity of tumors.

They performed 10 PET and 33 PET-CT scans on 28 people with ovarian cancer that was suspected to have spread to the abdominal cavity. PET alone produced three true positive and two true negative results, while PET-CT produced 14 true positives and 10 true negatives.

The PET produced two false positives, while PET-CT produced no false positives. PET-CT produced five false negatives, and PET alone produced no false negatives.

PET-CT was able to distinguish cancer from non-cancer 100 percent of the time), compared to 50 percent for PET.

The researchers caution this was a limited study, and more research is needed to properly compare PET-CT to PET or CT alone.

More information

The University of Michigan has more about PET-CT scanners.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, Dec. 3, 2002
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