Exactly what is a PET scan?

mssue Member Posts: 242
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Sue here,at the risk of sounding dumb-which my dr made me feel the other day,I would like to know if I was requesting the wrong test. My rib cage has been hurting for sometime now.I finally broke down and went to my reg. physician last week,he had x-rays of my chest taken -they came back clean.Okay thats great except my ribs still hurt,I asked about the PET scan to make sure there was no more cancer,he told me my onocologist would have to request it.I called her,she returned my call letting me know that she didn't think I needed that test,that it wasn't given to patients with breast cancer but if I wanted it for peace of mind she would set it up next week and I would have to pay for it because unless she thought it necessary my insurance would not cover it.---Am I asking for the wrong test????Just for back ground-I was dx august 2003 invasive ductal carcinoma,stage 1 her2nu postive,no lymph nodes involved.Had a mastectomy then four rounds of ac finished up in jan'04.I read something the other day that the cancer can mestasize through the lymph nodes or the blood stream.What really has stuck in my mind is when the dr was doing the biopsy he had trouble getting it out-I was awake during the procedure,I just wonder if between the time that was done and the mastectomy a week later if any was left to go to my chest wall or ribs.If nothing shows up on the x-rays and the pain is still there what should I do or ask for.It may be nothing but pain I have to live with -I can handle that -Not knowing is something else.My surgery was almost nine months ago and the pain is in my front lower rib cage on both sides(surgery on the left).I thought the pet scan would show if any cancer has been left behind or returned -I don't know what to think now.I don't believe what my onocologist said about the PET scan,I maybe wrong,but if there is still a problem besides x-rays shouldn't something else be done? I know this is long and my onocologist is now on vacation for a couple of weeks.I really can't afford to pay for the test out of my pocket what should I do - where should I go for info?What should I be asking about or asking for ?
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and if you can advise please do so ,your input would be tremendously appreciated.God Bless You All!

w/ Love


  • bunnie
    bunnie Member Posts: 233
    hi mssue.You are asking for the right test.I had one done not too long ago.i had what i thought was a cold my ribs had been hurting and i had a horrbile cough.anyways they treated me first for broncide and when i still wasnt felling well my regular family doc did a chest xrau didnt like what he saw so refrere me back to my oncoogist which he didnt like the chest xrays eitehr.so he order a pet scan.the looked at the rib cage and the lungs and detirmed it was cancer again.Oh and by the way my intial cancer was Breast i had a mastecomy jan 03 and was dignosed again in Jan 04. I would instist that he orders you one and not make you pay for one becase your right they are very expesive before the insurance mine cost close to 4000.00. luckly i have goood insurance andi only ended up paying a little over 200. Please keep us informed.you can email me direictly if you want.iam in the buddy list.take care (bunnie)
  • DebRoa
    DebRoa Member Posts: 31
    Hi Sue. I had a PET scan last summer after I was diagnosed. It showed one of the two tumors I had. So they are not perfect-they are just another tool. What is a PET? First a glucose solution is given to you-and it contains a radioactive isotope-one that decays rapidly. After this radioactivity has time to circulate through your body, you are place on a machine that in essence takes pics of your body. Areas with high radioactivity show up well....these are places where there is lots of cell division...cancerous areas for example-or higher metabolic activity....in epilepsy patients.

    My PET was 4000 dollars...and did not show my second tumor...so I am not that convinced in them. There could be other reasons you are hurting-I still have pain-I had my mastectomy in July 2003. There are lots of nerves...and you could have pulled something. Has your dr done a tumor marker to help rule out metastatic activity? Have you been doing your exercises? Have you tried taking advil or tylenol for the pain? does it work?

    Wish I had some answers for you. I hope the pain eases up for you. I have pretty much decided to just live with it since it is intermittent.


  • tulip66
    tulip66 Member Posts: 32
    I think that the PET scan is basically a test that shows activity in a particular tumor. It will show whether it has weakened in strength - it glows or something. A catscan just shows that there is something there - while the PET scan shows life on it...make sense? My understanding of the PET scan is they won't do it unless you have a tumor to see. At least I know my ins. wouldn't cover it without a tumor. If I had my way I would scan nightly LOL!

    I still have rib pain from the nerve damage after the masectomy. Could that be it for you too? Sometimes I think that the bra with the prostesis in it makes my ribs hurt too. Try to notice when it hurts the most - I have the same location of my rib pain but it isn't constant and seems to increase with the longer I wear the bra. It is such an ugly thing....the bra. I think that I'd like to go into business and design a sexy gorgeous prostesis bra!