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Positron emission tomography (pet) scannining in the staging and assessment of cure in head and neck cancer

PET is a new form of functional scanning (looking at the metabolic activity in a body area – which is high in viable cancer and low in normal background tissues that are not affected by cancer or in ‘dead’ cancer ).
 
Metabolically active/ cancer-affected regions show up clearly on the PET scan and this is now, with MR, the preferred form of staging. Not only this, but after radical radiotherapy, when it is often difficult to interpret the MR scan due to post-radiotherapy changes that are difficult to discriminate from residual viable cancer, the PET scan is a formidably accurate discriminator.