Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Mammography is a high-resolution imaging technique performed with a dedicated breast PET scanner and can assist in the evaluation of selected patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer.
When is a PET Mammogram Performed?
The images obtained with the Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) scanner show the location of suspicious masses, giving physicians a map upon which they can base your treatment options and/or surgical plan. Armed with this information, doctors can better determine candidates for breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy. Also, knowing the exact location and extent of the cancer guides doctors during surgery and helps assure that they remove all suspicious tissue and thereby avoid repeat surgeries.
Your doctor may also use PEM to monitor treatment or to check for a recurrence of disease. PEM also ideal for those patients whose MRI is not possible or is difficult to interpret due to hormonal influences, women with implants, patients with metal in their bodies, or patients who suffer from claustrophobia.
Before Your PET Mammogram
Patients are instructed to fast four hours prior to the exam, and a fasting blood sugar is obtained. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet prior to the exam can be recommended to those with difficult-to-control sugars.
During Your PET Mammogram
About one hour before the PEM scan, a technologist will take a drop of blood from your finger to test your blood sugar level. If it is within the acceptable range, a small amount of radioactive sugar will be injected into your arm. You will then be directed to a quiet room and asked to sit still in a chair or lie comfortably in a recliner for about 60 minutes, giving your body ample time to absorb the sugar. After an hour in the quiet room, you will be brought into the PEM scanning room and seated in a chair. The technologist will scan each breast separately for approximate 10-minute scans. Using gentle immobilization, a typical PEM examination includes two scans per breast and the entire procedure, including prep time, could take up to two hours.
Once your PEM scan is completed, high-resolution images are generated and read by a physician, who will typically prepare and send a report to your doctor within 24 to 48 hours. Your doctor will then inform you of the results.