Radiology (Xray)

About PET CT Scanning

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PET CT Scanner


North of England Cancer Network brings state-of-the-art scanner to the North East offering NHS cancer patients world class diagnostic facilities closer to home.


A new state-of-the-art scanner which uses advanced technology has been brought to the North East to improve the diagnosis and treatment for NHS cancer patients.

The Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography (PET CT) scanner offers cancer patients world class diagnostic facilities closer to their homes.

The North of England Cancer Network has brought the PET CT scanner to The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle/James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough meaning patients will no longer have to travel to London for the detailed scan.

PET CT scanners use advanced technology which works at the speed of light to create incredibly detailed images which identify where the cancer is in the body, and how advanced it is, so doctors can then plan how best to treat the disease.

The advanced technology can be used on certain types of cancer including lung, bowel and lymphoma and help with diagnosis of cancer, staging of the disease and treatment.

John Wilsdon, consultant radiologist for The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and PET clinical lead for the North of England Cancer Network, said: “This is a great leap forward for the treatment of patients.

 “This scanner has brought the North East up to a world class level. Our cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment are now as good as anywhere else in the world.”

The PET CT service is part of the Department of Health’s Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) programme. ISTCs provide additional capacity for elective surgery and diagnostic assessments and help improve health services for patients, reduce waiting times and improve patient choice.

PET scanners can work alongside Computed Tomography (CT) scanners to combine images of malignant cancer picked up by the PET scan, and images of a patient’s anatomy from the CT scan. This information is fused together meaning doctors can look at the cancerous tumours at many different angles – something they could not do with a CT scanner. 

The “fused” scans can show doctors exactly where the cancer is, the stage and extent of the cancer so that the most appropriate treatment can be given. The information can tell a doctor if the patient is appropriate for surgery or if they should be receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and avoiding unnecessary surgery.

Dr Wilsdon said: “The PET CT scanner is making sure surgery and treatment is targeted for the appropriate people. It can show the distribution of the cancer at the beginning of diagnosis and also the response the patient is having to treatment to see if it is working. In both cases a CT scan can’t answer those questions – only a PET scan can.” 

The majority of PET CT scans are presently used for cancer, however in the future they may be used to diagnose and treat diseases such as dementia and epilepsy.

Dr Wilsdon stressed the scanning technique is not 100% perfect and is more appropriate for some cancers than others, but it is currently the best diagnostic and staging tool available in the world today.

Roy McLauchlan network director for the North of England Cancer Network said: “We are delighted to have been able to bring this state-of-the-art PET CT scanner to the region to provide the best treatment possible for our patients close to their homes.  

“This means people living in the North East can now access the very best, leading edge diagnostic technique there is.”

The PET CT scanner is owned and staffed by Alliance Medical, an independent radiography service provider, and is positioned in mobile units on the hospital grounds for patients to visit.

NHS North of Tyne, working on behalf of Newcastle Primary Care Trust (PCT), North Tyneside PCT and Northumberland Care Trust, commissions the PET CT scanner service on behalf of primary care organisations across the North East for the region’s patients. 

Mike Guy, medical director for NHS North of Tyne, said: “The new PET CT scanner is a fantastic step forward for patients in the region. It means they will no longer have to make a long and tiring journey to London for a scan whilst undergoing gruelling treatment.

“The detailed scans will also lead to more targeted treatment of cancer which will improve the outcome for our patients.”

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