New combination scan to improve cancer detection say doctors

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new scan combining PET and CAT imaging technology, with the potential to improve cancer detection, has entered clinical trials in the US.

Both techniques are routinely used on their own to detect and monitor a wide range of conditions, but the University of Pennsylvania trial is the first to combine the strengths of both.

Computer assisted tomography (CAT) scans use a special array of X-rays and is able to produce 3D images of the body?s interior.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans can give information about changes occurring in the body in real-time.

"We can use this PET/CAT to check for early indications of cancer or to see if the cancer has spread," Dr Laurie Loevner of the University of Pennsylvania told Reuters. "We can also look to see if a particular therapy has been successful in treating the cancer."

The new scan ? known as "time of flight" technology, will be particularly useful for obese patients, whose physical size can often make it harder to detect tumours.

Introducing the machine to the press, Dr Loevner gave the example of a patient who was thought to be in remission before the scan was able to reveal that the cancer had returned.

He also pointed out that the technology has the potential to reduce medical costs by eliminating the need for exploratory surgery or other treatment that turn out to be unnecessary.

Find out more about cancer imaging technology