Since its doors first opened in 2016, Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing comprehensive onsite cancer care services. That commitment will be reinforced once again this April when the facility expands its treatment capabilities with state-of-the-art 64-slice digital PET/CT imaging—making the cancer center the only facility in the region to offer this advanced technology.
Positron emission tomography, or PET, reveals the metabolic activity going on at the cellular level of the body, whereas computed tomography, or CT, uses x-ray technology to get a detailed image of internal body structures. When combined, these two technologies can provide much more comprehensive information about a patient’s cancer than either system can in isolation.
“This amazing technology has revolutionized how we diagnose and treat cancer patients,” states Mercy Health oncologist Nauman Shahid, MD. “Our system is a digital 64-slice scanner that combines PET and CT, so it gives you exceptional depth of information and produces highly detailed images.”
Dr. Shahid explains that in the realm of PET/CT imaging, “slices” are cross-sectional images of the body that are converted by computer into a high-resolution 3D image—and the higher the slice count, the better the image. “Think of slices as you would pixels in a camera,” he says. “The more slices, the more detailed the picture.”
The potential for this advanced PET/CT imaging to improve outcomes for cancer patients is considerable. It can help doctors diagnose and stage cancer, as well as help guide treatment decisions and determine whether the cancer is getting worse or better in response to treatment. In fact, this imaging capability continues to serve an important purpose even after the patient is finished with active treatment, when it can be used for surveillance to ensure the cancer hasn’t recurred.
Prior to the PET scan, patients are injected with a glucose-based radioactive tracer dye, which then travels throughout the body and is taken up by cells that use glucose as energy. Since cancer cells tend to grow more aggressively than normal cells, they tend to take up more of the dye and show up as bright spots, or “hot spots,” on the images. “This technology is able to detect the vast majority of cancers,” says Dr. Shahid. “The more aggressive the cancer is, the more glucose it takes up and the more helpful the PET scan will be.”
During a PET scan, the patient lies very still on a table that is moved in and out of the scanner for imaging. The machine itself is shaped like a doughnut standing on end and has a relatively wide opening, so patients seldom feel claustrophobic throughout the procedure. Also, according to Dr. Shahid, no significant risks are associated with PET scans. Radiation exposure is minimal, and there’s no risk of organ damage from the dye used in PET scans as there can be with the contrast dye sometimes used in CT scans.
PET scans are significantly more expensive than CT scans, but the combined system makes it possible to use one or the other when appropriate. “For example, with certain cancers, we quite frequently do CT scans to see how they’re responding to treatment or to check for evidence of recurrence. Then, if we see something we’re not sure about, we can perform a PET scan to verify what it is.” Dr. Shahid states.
Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center (located on the same campus as the Mercy Health – Perrysburg Hospital) is convenient to both state route 25 and I-475/US-23 and offers ample parking close to the building. The Mercy Health oncology team of Abhay Shelke, MD; Mohammad Alnsour, MD; Adnan Alkhalili, MD; and Nauman Shahid, MD, provide compassionate treatment using the most up-to-date technology at the Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit mercy.com. ❦