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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Lee Health is starting to reschedule appointments, surgeries, and procedures that were delayed during the pandemic. You can be confident that we will provide the most exceptional care in the safest environment. Learn More

When to Get a PET Scan - Imaging/ Oncology

It’s called a positron emission tomography scan or PET scan for short. “We tend to use them commonly in things like lung cancer, head and neck cancer, lymphomas,” explained Dr. Kristina Mirabeau-Beale, a radiation oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health. PET scans are used to help doctors find where the cancer is located. During cancer treatment, patients may undergo additional PET scans to determine how well their body is responding to treatment. “Sometimes a patient is getting a PET scan after they’ve had a certain constellation of symptoms and if we see a mass somewhere that has a lot of pet uptick we will divert that patient to get a biopsy,” she said. Using a radioactive tracer, a PET scan will clearly show physicians any abnormal cells in the body. “We’re able to look at the patient’s whole body globally and really see if there’s any cancer hiding somewhere,” said Dr. Mirabeau-Beale. PET scans can also be used for cardiology or neurology patients—but if doctors are searching for brain cancer or slow-growing cancer, they may decide to use an MRI instead. “PET dye doesn’t necessarily show us detailed brain images of the brain to identify a primary brain cancer, so we will often have to get an MRI,” she explained. If a patient is experiencing symptoms, doctors will determine the best test to help find the problem and get patients the right treatment. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit