By Michael A. Smith, MDPET scan, utilizes your cells’ metabolic pathways to image areas in your body that are either over or underactive — often signifying disease. This ability to highlight a cell’s metabolism is known as a “functional” test.
As it turns out, with a rich supply of functional data on cellular metabolism, PET scans have tremendous potential in helping people beat cancer. One of the leading experts in PET scanning is Dr. Richard Black, director of Nuclear Medicine for one of the largest radiology groups in the United States.
Dr. Black points out that, “A PET scan report should tell doctors (and their patients) what they really want and need to know to facilitate and optimize individual patient management. Most importantly, a PET scan should be able to change and assist how a clinician manages a cancer patient.”
Cancer Cells are HyperactiveCancer cells are metabolically hyperactive, dividing and growing very rapidly. This rapid growth requires a lot of energy — energy that’s mostly supplied by glucose. Cancer cells will take up a lot of glucose at a fast rate from the environment surrounding them. The glucose is then converted to energy by the cell.
A PET scan takes advantage of the hyperactive state of a cancer cell. The test starts by injecting the patient with FDG or fluorodeoxyglucose. FDG consists of a molecule of glucose chemically linked to a radioisotope of fluorine. Like regular glucose, FDG is taken up by your cells. But because cancer cells are more active than surrounding cells, they take up FDG at a greater rate than normal cells.1-3
The fluorescence from FDG is captured by the PET scanner, creating an image of the cancer which is then displayed on a monitor. This image can provide the doctor with a tremendous amount of information — information that can better stage the cancer and help to develop the best possible treatment regimen.
PET Scans Outperform Other TestsPET scans can correctly and successfully change patient management in an average of 30%–38% of cases compared to conventional imaging techniques that include CT, MRI and X-rays.4 Ultimately, PET scans can have a huge impact on the patient’s prognosis and outcome following treatment.
PET scans accomplish four things:5
- Differentiation between benign and malignant growths
- Establishing the stage of the cancer
- Monitoring the response to therapy
- Detecting cancer reoccurrence
Protecting Yourself from PET Scan RadiationHere’s our list of nutrients that can protect you from radiation exposure.
- R-lipoic acid – 300 mg a day
- Beta-carotene – 25,000 IU or 75 mg daily
- CoQ10 – 100 to 400 mg a day
- Siberian ginseng – 1000 mg daily
- Green tea extract – 725 mg three times a day
- N-acetylcysteine – 200 to 600 mg daily
- MSM – 1000 mg daily
- Selenium – 200 to 1000 mcg a day
- Silymarin (Milk Thistle) – 150 to 600 mg daily
- Pure Honey – 20 ml 15 minutes before and after radiation exposure
In summary, we strongly suggest talking to your doctor about utilizing a PET scan if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Although not perfect, a PET scan can impact prognosis greatly and offer you the best chance for beating cancer and becoming a survivor.
- Nucl Med Biol. 2000 Oct;27(7):643-6.
- Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Sep;74(9):3735-9.
- Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2008 Apr;8(3):305-12.
- J Nucl Med. 2001 May;42(5 Suppl):1S-93S.
- Oncology. 2007;72 Suppl 1:104-10.
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