For patients with neuroendocrine cancers, accurate diagnosis and tracking of tumors has long been very difficult. Fortunately, in June of 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new pharmaceutical that, when used with positron emission tomography (PET), makes these rare tumors visible on medical images. This pharmaceutical goes by several names: Gallium-68, Gallium Dotatate and NETSpot.
At the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center, we offer a combined PET and computed tomography (CT) exam for the imaging of neuroendocrine tumors. The PET highlights the tumors, the CT shows a detailed view of the body, and a computer merges the two sets of images into one.
How this exam works
First, a patient is given an injection of Gallium-68. This is a slightly radioactive pharmaceutical which is quickly absorbed by neuroendocrine tumors. The PET/CT scanner detects where the tumors have absorbed the Gallium and shows them as a bright patches on the images. At the same time, the scanner uses X-rays to generate 3-D images the body. This allows an imaging physician to see whether a tumor is in bone, a lung, or any other organ.
Prior to the use of Gallium-68 PET/CT, scans of these tumors looked like this:
The Gallium-68 PET/CT for neuroendocrine tumors looks like this:
Not only does this scan show these tumors, it is also much faster than the older scan, and can be done during a single appointment of two to 2.5 hours.
If you are coming to Cedars-Sinai for a PET/CT for neuroendocrine tumors, you can find information on what to expect when you arrive and the preparation for this test.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.