PET Scan in Lung Cancer Follow-up

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 8, 2013

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Can you address the use of PET scans for follow up after surgery?


Charles B. Simone II, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

There are no recommendations that are widely agreed upon for how to follow patients once they have completed therapy for lung cancer. The options are to use chest x-rays, CT scans, or CT-PET scans. Most physicians treating lung cancers will follow patients more closely (every 3-6 months) for the first 2 years after treatment, when they are at the highest risk for recurrence, but patients will often continue to be followed with life-long annual surveillance thereafter. CT scans are more sensitive for detecting a recurrence or new cancer than chest x-rays. Most guidelines and experts recommend surveillance with CT scans and not PET or PET/CT scans. PET/CT scans, however, can be used to evaluate any abnormality that may be revealed by the CT scan.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entirel transcript from the Focus on Lung Cancer webchat.

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