Birmingham, England – Researchers from the University of Birmingham and University of Warwick have found that cancer scanners reduce the need of surgery to check if cancer treatments have worked. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to this study, the positron emission tomography-computed tomography or (PET-CT) can pick up cancer cells to check if the treatment works. This would make surgery to visually determinate whether the growth has gone no longer necessary. The study conducted on 564 patients showed that 80% of them could spare surgery by scanning instead. In fact, only one in five of the participants required the procedure.
“Cancerous cells hide among the dead cells and with PET-CT you can call them out and find out whether they’re alive or not. We can now use this new technology to save patients having a debilitating operation and identify those that need the operation rather than give it to everybody.” Hisham Mehanna, a professor from the University of Birmingham said in a statement according to BBC.
How does PET-CT work?
Doctors usually check the head and neck tumor growth after chemotherapy and radiotherapy through a three-hour operation. But the research team found that the scanning and surgery methods’ survival rates actually stayed the same.
These rates are thanks to the positron emission tomography-computed tomography or (PET-CT), which uses a radioactive dye that is picked up by rapidly dividing cancer cells. This allows doctors to see if any of the head or neck cancer is still active without surgery.
But not having to go through surgery is not the only advantage PET-CT offers. It is also a better option because it saves recovery time, money and prevents disfigurement due to nerve damage that the operation may cause.
Arnie Purushotham, UK’s cancer researcher, said this is a really important study and if long-term follow-up confirms these results, this imaging technique could mean kinder treatments for patients with head and neck cancer. She added that there could also be opportunities to expand this approach to other types of cancer and also potentially saving money for the NHS.