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Saint Francis Offers New Bone Survey For Cancer Detection

November 12, 2012

Saint Francis Medical Center is the first in the region to offer the PET F18 Bone Survey – the new standard in bone imaging. This new tool helps capture high-definition bone images, making it easier to accurately detect cancer that has metastasized or spread to the bone.

PET F18, also known as sodium fluoride F18, is a radioactive, diagnostic tracing agent used in PET imaging. After the agent is injected into the patient intravenously, it travels through the blood directly to the bone – highlighting active bone turnover that may indicate metastatic disease. A PET scan then captures highly detailed, exquisitely clear images of the bone and any potential abnormalities.

Better image quality, increased clinical accuracy, enhanced patient convenience and added efficiency are among benefits of this type of bone scan.

“Fluoride – which is very similar to calcium – is actively taken up by the bone in sites of inflammation, infection or tumor,” say Mark L. Gates, MD, a radiologist at Saint Francis Medical Center specializing in nuclear medicine. “Other agents show us most, but perhaps not all of the bone metastases, and not in the detail that we would like in order to best treat the patient. Using a PET scanner we can now get both functional and anatomical images.

“While its primary purpose is to identify sites of metastatic bone disease, we can also differentiate benign from malignant tumors,” adds Gates. “It can also show us sites of active infection or active inflammation – from arthritis or perhaps fractures that have not healed.”

In addition to its clinical advantages, the PET F18 Bone Survey is more easily tolerated by patients and requires less waiting time from injection to scan than a conventional bone scan (45 minutes versus three hours). The procedure itself takes only 20 minutes, compared to an hour for a conventional bone scan. No patient preparation is required for the procedure, and it poses no greater risk than an X-ray. Medicare now covers the PET F18 Bone Survey.

A number of prevalent cancers in the United States are associated with metastatic bone disease. Bone scans are essential tools in the diagnosis of bone metastases, especially in cancers like breast and prostate that tend to spread to the bone.

For more information about the PET F18 Bone Survey call the Saint Francis Cancer Institute at 573-334-2230.

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