Topic: PET vs CT Scan

Can someone point out what the differences are in a PET scan as compared to a CT scan. My mom-in-law is a Canadian citizen, but is in the US getting treatment here. CT scans are covered in her treatment cost. However, the doctor we are going to is recommending a PET scan. Since it is pretty expensive, we are not sure if it is really needed and if it is going to give us a lot more information or not. Any thoughts and insights from folks is really appreciated

Re: PET vs CT Scan

PET scans are most commonly done now together with a CT scan and the images are merged together giving a lot more information than either alone.  Patty posted a really good article about how useful PET/CT scans are in CC.  If you look under the New Developments section the article is "Impact of PET scans on Intended Management" and it very clearly shows the advantage of this scan.  It especially makes the point of how many more people are offered potentially curative treatment after a PET scan as opposed to just a CT.  She just recently posted it on 12/8 so it should be easy to find.

Wishing all the best to your MIL and your whole family...I'm sure it's a very difficult time for you all.


Re: PET vs CT Scan

Patty here, this is the link to my post: … hp?id=2179

I also found an interesting article from 2006 that compares CT/PET to IOUS (intraoperative ultrasound), here is the link to the abstract: … ctID=34755

And this from an oncology forum:


Re: PET vs CT Scan

vkapur...I agree with Jean however, in my husband's case we had a PT scan only once.  I remember our surgeon insisting on a 3D-scan and the oncologist requesting a CT scan. Seemes as if different doctors prefer one over the other. Others may also have some answers to this. 


Re: PET vs CT Scan

Howdy: I asked my oncologist at MD Anderson about PET scans. He does not use them, saying that they are unreliable and sometimes misleading when used to visualize cholangiocarcinoma or mixed tumors. He says you get a much clearer picture from CT scans and intraoperative ultrasound. I don't know if that is a universal opinion, but that seems to be the prevailing attitude at MD Anderson.

Violarob in Texas

Re: PET vs CT Scan

In our situation, none of the tests showed anything including the CT Scans. He had MRI's, ultrasounds, CT Scans etc. The Pet Scan was the only one that actually found & helped to diagnois my husband's CC along with a liver needle biopsy. Most of what I have learned since then leads me to believe that the PET Scan is the way to go.  Of course, this is just my opinion based on our situation. Wishing you the best out come whatever course you take.

"One Day At A Time"

All of my comments and suggestions are just my opinions and are not a substitute for professional medical advice.   You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers.

Re: PET vs CT Scan

In my fathers case, the order of procedures back in June of 07(when discovered my dad was jaundice), was ultrasound, then catsan, and then an ERCP which is a tube that goes down the throat and gets a peices of the tumor to biopsy.  We didn't do a PET test until recently when "spots" were now found on my dads lungs, and the dr. said he wanted to make sure there wasn't any return of the cancer anywhere else in his body.  He told us, the PET test could/would give him a much clearer indication of what, if anything was going on anywhere in his body.  Every Doctor is different, and has different methods, and that is very apropos wth this type of cancer, b/c every persons case seems to be different.  Thoughts are with you on this very difficult journey.

The  Lord is my shephard

Re: PET vs CT Scan

I get CT, MRI and PET scans. PET scans seem to be yearly and MRI every 3 months with a CT thrown in when the MRI machine is too busy. I have no idea which one is best. I know that the liver surgeon was very interested in the PET scan to see if there was any mets.

I know I didnt answer the question. I wish I knew which was better and or best.


Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

36 year old patient with buckets of hope