PET Scans (Positron Emission Tomography)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a method of scanning the body for tumors. It uses a machine capable of detecting gamma rays – a type of radiation – and uses these rays to locate cancerous cells.

When a patient has a PET scan, he or she will be injected with radioactive glucose (a sugar). Glucose injected into the veins will circulate through the body quickly and be absorbed into the cells that need the most energy. Since cancer cells grow faster and demand more nourishment than any other cell in the body, tumors will absorb the majority of the radioactive glucose.

This glucose emits positrons (positive electrons) as the radioactive molecule attached to it breaks down. These positrons collide with electrons in the body. When this happens, a gamma ray is created.

The patient lies down on a table inside a machine that looks a lot like an MRI machine. The PET machine detects the gamma rays and locates the origin of the radiation, thus locating a tumor in the body. This information is used in conjunction with a CT scan or X-ray so that doctors can identify the location of all of the patient’s tumors.

Side Effects

Though a PET scan has very few side effects, the radioactive isotope will stay in your body for 24-48 hours. For this reason, it is recommended that you avoid contact with anyone for a day so that you don’t expose anyone to the radiation.

Similar Tests

MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and gallium scans can also be used to identify and locate tumors.

For more information on Hodgkin's Disease, please see the following pages:

For more information on Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, please see the following pages:

More Articles

More Articles

According to a study by Japanese researchers, the SMILE combination chemotherapy protocol is effective against extranodal natural killer/T-cell...

Patients treated with maintenance rituximab had three times longer progression-free survival. This is a summary of an article published in the...

When you consider that the adult human body has anywhere from 300 to 700 lymph nodes, the better question might not be where ARE they located, but...

This entry looks at a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called true histiocytic lymphoma (THL), also referred to as diffuse histiocytic lymphoma, and...

Lymphomatous meningitis [LM], also known as leukemic meningitis, is an extremely serious peripheral cancer that attacks the tissue that covers the...

Hodgkin's Disease—also referred to as Hodgkin's Lymphoma, these are the exact same diseases, just...

Intravascular lymphoma is a subtype of 'Lymphoma', an umbrella term that loosely refers to several dozen...

While the average lifespan for hamsters is only about 2.5 years, and they are therefore less prone to long-term illnesses, it is possible for a...

Burkitt's lymphoma is an aggressive B-cell lymphoma that is common in children...

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, causing B-cell or...

The term NK T cell lymphoma refers to one of two subtypes of lymphoma that affect the NK (Natural Killer)...

Lymphoma is a life-threatening disease, but is very treatable in most cases. The 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's...

T cell lymphoma treatment options for these cancers are not especially effective and there is no absolute consensus about optimal treatments for...

Marginal zone lymphomas (MZL) are indolent lymphomas that affect the B-cells. The...

Lymphomas can arise from most any lymphatic tissue (lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, mucosa associated lymphoid...