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"Are my PET Scan results a good thing or a bad thing?"

ZocdocAnswersAre my PET Scan results a good thing or a bad thing?


I had a family member who had near 70% of his lung removed due to lung cancer. He had his first follow up PET scan and we were able to grab the results; however, we can't have a doctor review anything for a week. We were just wondering if the results page is something to be positive about or something worse and a need for concern? Thank you! Review of the osseous structures shows no gross evidence of lytic or sclerotic bony lesions; however, nuclear medicine bone scan may have more sensitive for tumor evaluation. 1) Post surgical changes from right lower lobectomy. Mild metabolic activity is seen at this area is likely related to atelectasis. Recommend attention on follow up. 2) Focus of increased metabolic activity with what is believed to be a lymph node within the soft tissues along the anterior and lateral right chest wall. Suggest attention on follow up. 3) No other evidence of tumor or metastatic disease.


Thank you for your question. Reviewing radiology reads over the internet is a very difficult thing to do as it is difficult to provide any appropriate context. So it is important that you speak with your doctor. Rather than directly answering your question, let's provide some background that will make your next visit easier. PET scans combine the excellent clarity that can be obtained with x-rays with additional nuclear medicine technology that makes some things "light up" easier. A special radioactive sugar is injected into the body, and areas of rapid growth or activity preferentially take up this sugar. When the scan is developed, those areas with more of this sugar and the radioactive dye will be brighter ("light up" more), and can thus indicate if there is any residual cancer left in the area (as cancer tends to grow faster and behave differently than the surrounding tissues). Healing tissue can also do the same thing, and so post surgical changes can be a sign of appropriate healing. Lymph nodes can be sites where the body finds and treats both infection and tumor cells, and so changes in intensity in lymph nodes is examined closely for these reasons. Obviously, it is usually otherwise a good thing to have no evidence of active tumor present. Please speak with your doctor for more information.

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