Saint Francis Healthcare System has a special tool that can detect whether cancer has spread to the bone. The positive emission tomography (PET) F-18 bone survey uses radioactive fluorine to identify areas of cancer in the bone.
“For many years, we have been using PET scans to identify cancer that has metastasized to the bone,” says Mark L. Gates, MD, radiologist, who practices at Saint Francis Healthcare System. “We inject fluorine into the patient and combine it with a sugar molecule to scan the bone. But researchers have discovered that when we use fluorine all by itself, we can obtain a more precise picture of where the cancer is.”
The PET F-18 bone survey is most useful for breast, prostate and lung cancers, which are the three cancers most likely to spread to the bone. “This test can change the course of therapy for a cancer patient,” says Gates.