Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A study looking at PET-CT scans for patients having treatment for head and neck cancer
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This study used a new type of scan which is a combination of a PET scan and a CT scan in one machine. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors use tests, such as X-rays and
But these changes can sometimes be difficult to see. Doctors can’t always tell if a lump is cancerous, or whether it is scar tissue left behind after treatment, for example. PET scans show up cancer cells. CT scans give a clear picture of the inside of the body. If they do a CT scan at the same time as a PET scan this could help give them more exact results.
The aim of this study was to see if the PET-CT scan helped doctors to see if cancer treatment was working.
Summary of results
The study team found they could use PET-CT scans to find out if cancer was responding to treatment.
This study recruited 12 people who were having radiotherapy to treat head and neck cancer. Everyone had a PET-CT scan
- 3 days before starting radiotherapy
- Twice during radiotherapy
- At the end of their radiotherapy
The team were able to look at the scans of 8 people out of the 12 who took part. When the study team compared the 4 individual scans of each person, they found that everyone’s cancer had got smaller at each scan.
The study team concluded they could use PET-CT scans to work out how well radiotherapy was working for people with head and neck cancer.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Michele Saunders
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust