Do I Need A PET Scan?
Another question most patients ask is, “Do I need a PET scan? Has my cancer spread? How do you know it hasn’t spread?”
Well, there are steps that we take to determine whether or not a patient needs to have a PET scan. If you have a small breast cancer and there’s no clinically positive lymph nodes, we tend not to do a PET scan. PET scans are usually reserved as if we have a large tumor and we know that there’s lymph node involvement. And that’s easily diagnosed by a biopsy of the lymph nodes.
Most people will not get a PET scan upfront unless we know there’s lymph nodes that are positive. If your lymph nodes are positive because we felt them or we saw something on imaging and we have a pathological diagnosis of lymph node metastasis, then we will get a PET scan.
Most patients who get PET scans are usually after their surgery, after we do a node biopsy during their main surgery and we find out they actually had positive lymph nodes because we couldn’t feel them on clinical exam and we didn’t see them imaging, but microscopically, they were positive. Those patients will get a PET scan after their surgery.
1. There are steps to take to determine whether or not a patient needs to have a PET scan.
2. If you have a small breast cancer with no positive lymph nodes, we tend not to do a PET scan.
3. PET scans are usually if there is a large tumor and lymph node involvement.
4. Most people will not get a PET scan unless they know there are positive lymph nodes.