Next week (September 24 & 28), I will undergo a CT (Computed Tomography) and a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to assess how my lymphoma has progressed after 8 cycles of chemotherapy that started in March 2012.
The CT scan is essentially a series of X-rays images of the body that radiolgists use to look inside of the body. A contrasting agent (a salt of iodine) is injected duing the scan to help enchance the certain features of the anatomy. The scan consists of a series virtiual X-Ray slices through the body. The different organs, arteries, veins, lymph nodes and tumors have a distinct appearance that a radiologist uses to assess how the cancer has progressed compared to a previous scan.
In addition to this scan, a PET scan is done to map out the areas where active cancer cells are located. This is accomplished by injecting a solution of glucose (sugar) that is tagged with a radioactive isotope. In this case it is Fluorine-18, a radioactive isotope that emits protons,which are detected by a special sensor that circles the body duing the scan. The images show light areas in different area of the body where the cancer cells are located. By comparing the PET scan images with those of the CT scan the radiologist can accurately determine if there are any tumors and which organs or areas are affected by the cancer.
The image posted above is my actual PET scan taken before the chemotherapy was started. Based on my reading of the radiology reports, I have identified with red dots the sites where cancerous activity occurs.
After 6 cycles of chemotherapy, my CT scan confirmed that most of my enlarged lymph nodes (adenopathy) had significantly decreased in size, thereby indicating that I was responding well to the treatments. Some areas however did remained showed little change from the previous scan. I look forward to seeing the results of these latest scans.
I will get the complete results of the latest scans when I meet with my oncologist in early October.
To be continued…