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About HCA

PET CT Scanner

New medical technology available to patients of HCA hospitals in London

When would a patient receive a PET/CT scan?

PET/CT scans are used to locate cancer cells within the body prior to any treatment recommendation


Tumour detection for a variety of cancers including: lung, colorectal, head and neck, ovarian, cervical, melanoma, lymphoma, breast and oesophageal


A full body scan which uses the two imaging tools, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT), at the same time to respectively detect active cancerous cells, and determine these tumours' location, size and shape

How does it work?

The patient is injected with a radioactive tracer (similar to sugar) which is taken up by any metabolic hotspots, often indicating actively growing cancer cells which have a much higher metabolic rate than other organs or tumours. These cells are then shown up by the PET scan. At the same time, the CT scan takes a series of cross-sectional X-rays to produce a highly accurate image of the body's internal structures


There is a small amount of radiation involved in the procedure but the benefits of this combined modality outweigh any risks

Average duration of treatment

One hour for the tracer to be absorbed by the cells, followed by a scan lasting about 30 minutes

Supporting evidence

Clinical trials show that a PET/CT scan provides a more complete picture and is more accurate than PET and CT scans alone1,2

What it's replacing/is it additional?

The PET/CT is an additional new technology, combining two diagnosis tools


It enables early diagnosis and very accurate localisation of the tumour(s), enabling precise treatment without the need for undergoing any unnecessary invasive diagnostic or other procedures. It also enables the physician to monitor the progress of any treatment programme

FDA status

18FDG, the most commonly used isotope tracer used in PET/CT scanning, received FDA approval in 2005

NICE approval

In 2005 NICE guidelines were published stating that lung cancer patients should have access to PET/CT scanning for staging the disease

For more information

The Imaging Centre
The Harley Street Clinic
020 7935 7700


1. Branstetter BF, 4th: Radiology, May 2005; 235 (2): 580-6

2. Hricak, H., M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, (2002, January 15)

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