Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn has been fighting a difficult battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma the last nine months. After his initial rounds of radiation and chemotherapy failed to put him into remission, Zohn opted for a high dose radiation treatment followed by a stem-cell transplant. Now that his radiation therapy is completed, doctors did a test called a PET scan to see how he responded, and the news is very good- there are no active cancer cells in his body! In about two weeks, Zohn will start the one month long stem-cell transplant procedure (see link above for details). Girlfriend, Jenna Morasca, is excited about the results, “I always knew he could beat it. This is the best Christ-makah present anyone could ask for.”
A PET scan, which is short for Positron Emission Tomography, is an imaging technique which, unlike CT scans or x-rays, doesn’t show anatomy as much as it shows how a particular area is functioning. It is frequently used to detect cancers, and assess neurologic and cardiovascular problems. The most common form of a PET scan begins with an injection of a glucose-based radiopharmaceutical (FDG), which travels through the body. Glucose, a basic sugar molecule, is used in the metabolism of all cells, but shows a greater uptake in cells with high metabolic rates, such as cancer cells. Therefore areas of cancer will take up more of the radioactive glucose and will be visible on the scan performed by the PET scan machine. The machine is very sensitive and the amount of radioactivity used is too small to affect normal body activities.
A Typical Pet Scan Machine
PET Scan of a patient with Lymphoma with involvement in the brain, chest and spleen