Localize cancer earlier and faster
According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1.8 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2020. In Michigan, that number has been estimated at nearly 62,000.
Thanks to the advanced technology of the PET/CT scanner, doctors can now see exactly where cancer is located in the body by combining two already established methods. Positron emission tomography, or PET, uses a radioactive tracer that is injected into the body to identify cancer. Once the cancer is found, the tracer attaches to the cancer cells and emits a signal that is detected by the PET scanner. The second method is computed tomography, or CT imaging technology, which shows a detailed picture of anywhere cancer is present, whether it’s in the lungs or inside a bone, for example.
Mark DeLano, Professor and Chair of Radiology at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
“We call it hybrid technology when you combine two different types of imaging and get new insights,” says Mark DeLano, professor and chair of the department of radiology at MSU College of Human Medicine, who uses the technology to guide the treatment of cancer patients. “A PET scan pinpoints the tumor markers in your body, such as B. specific proteins on cancer cells, or how much energy the tumor uses, and the CT scanner looks at your structure like bones, organs and blood vessels.”
This makes whole-body PET/CT scanner technology the ideal tool for diagnosing and guiding the treatment of cancer. So far, this technology has only been used in the USA for research purposes.
The pinpoint accuracy – and speed – of the technology is a huge benefit for patients. A typical head-to-toe PET scan takes about 40 minutes. For patients who are already anxious or unwell, this can feel like an eternity, and staying still for so long is even more of a challenge for children or those with claustrophobia or other medical conditions. If a patient moves during the scan, this significantly reduces both the accuracy of the stitching process used to create a coherent image and the quality of the final image. This can severely affect the ability to detect small tumors. The new scanner eliminates both problems.
Patient undergoing full body PET/CT scan. A: Maximum intensity projection, which is a 3D reconstructed image from PET/CT imaging. B: PET image C: CT image D: Composite PET/CT. Image courtesy of BAMF Health
“This state-of-the-art full-body PET/CT scanner allows us to complete the full-body scan in one minute and scan 194 centimeters (76 inches) at a time,” said Anthony Chang, Founder and CEO of BAMF Health. “That means it takes a fortieth of the time.”
The entire patient is imaged in a single scan, improving final image quality and detection of small tumors and lesions. By detecting cancer earlier, researchers can initiate more aggressive therapeutic options earlier and reduce therapeutic intensity with greater confidence when there is no evidence of widespread disease.
“Traditional scanners can detect signs of cancer as small as one centimeter (0.39 inch), but this new scanner can detect signs of cancer as small as two millimeters (less than a tenth of an inch),” says Chang.