What Types of Cancer Does a PET Scan Detect?

Pet Scan

The PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan is one of the diagnostic imaging scans that is mostly used and an advanced technique to diagnose cancer disease, its stages, and the spread of cancer.

This technique uses low levels of radiation and a radioactive tracer to detect the body parts where cells are abnormally active which indicates the presence of cancer in the body. It not only detects cancer but also gives information about the spread of cancer along with the affected body parts.

Nowadays, Doctors prefer PET scans over other imaging techniques for cancer detection, identifying the location of cancer cells inside a person’s body. With the precise diagnosis of cancer and its spread, it becomes easy for doctors to detect the recurrence of cancer, decide the best possible treatment for cancer management such as chemotherapy, and monitor the response of continuing cancer treatment.

Generally, the questions such as what type of cancer the PET scan help in detection come into mind. This blog is to educate you about everything you need to know about the PET scan technique for cancer.

Types of Cancer can be detected with PET Scan

Although a PET Scan not only helps in the detection of various types of cancer but also the location of cancer cells and their spread inside the body. In the scan, the cancerous cells generally appear as bright spots because the radioactive tracer settles in the tumor.  But some cancers are not detected using only PET scans. For those cancer types, additional imaging tests along with the PET scan are required to confirm whether the abnormal cell growth is cancerous.

The type of cancers/ tumors that can be detected using PET Scan are:

  • Brain Tumor
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Head tumor
  • Neck cancer
  • Lungs cancer
  • Lymph cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Why is a PET Scan used for Cancer?

It is used not only to diagnose the cancer be it new or old but also to identify the cancer stage and planning of cancer treatment.

Diagnosis of the Cancer

PET Scan helps in detecting cell growth but with the help of this imaging procedure, all types of cancer are not seen. Cancer that is not diagnosed or detected with the help of a PET scan is detected with the help of some other imaging tests.

Staging of Cancer

PET scans determine the spread of cancer. It gives detail about the cancer stage which means how much cancer is, how it is spreading and how far it has spread in the body. Experts prefer this scan over imaging procedures because it detects more cancerous sites as compared to CT or MRI alone..

Recurrence of Cancer

PET scan reveals information, on whether cancer reoccurred in the body after successful completion of the treatment and whether its spreads to other parts of the body.

Follow-up of Cancer Treatment

PET scan is often used as a follow-up method to determine whether the treatment is working and lowering the spread of cancer. In this case, the result of the PET scan helps in the modification of the treatment if required.

Treatment Planning

PET scans help doctors as a guide in deciding the customized treatment for cancer problems.  Because this scan provides information about the location of cancer and its spread in the body. So, it becomes easy for a doctor to decide on a particular treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy.

How Does PET Scan Work?

The procedure of PET scan involves the use of a radioactive tracer:

  • Before the scanning procedure, the technologist injects the radioactive tracer into the vein of your arm. After getting an injection, you may experience a cold sensation in your arm.
  • Technologist will instruct you to remain still for around 60 mins because the body takes 45-60mins to absorb the radioactive tracer.
  • Once the tracer absorbs in the body, Experts perform the scan procedure in the PET-CT Scanner.
  • During the scanning procedure, you need to remain still on the examination table attached to the scanner to avoid the images being blurred. The images that will be captured on the monitor will represent the radioactive tracer circulation to the body parts. On the screen, the cancerous cells with a high concentration of the radioactive tracer will appear as bright spots.

Benefits and Risks of PET Scan in Cancer Disease

Because every coin has two faces. PET CT Scan is also having benefits as well as Risks factors. But the benefits overweigh the risk factors.  Now will discuss the benefits and side effects of It.


  • Early detection and accurate diagnoses of the cancer problem
  • Detailed images of the scanned area as compared to other imaging techniques
  • Helps in effective and accurate treatment planning

Risk Factors

  • Allergy reaction due to radioactive tracer
  • Low radiation level but still harmful for pregnant and breastfeeding females because there is a chance of exposure of your child to radiation.


Not only treatment but the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease such as cancer is alarming. But if you know the testing procedure and the type of cancer that can be identified using PET CT Test.,

This Scan plays a vital role not only in the detection of the cancer disease at the initial stage but also in staging and treatment monitoring. Apart from this, it’s useful in the inspection of cancer after the completion of the treatment.

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By PostingEra