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New study shows post-treatment PET scans can detect cervical tumors

By Julie Bierach

SAINT LOUIS, MO – A new study at Washington University is showing that post-treatment PET scans on cervical cancer patients can be beneficial when determining whether a patient is tumor-free.

Researchers found that a whole-body PET scan, or Positron Emission Tomography scan, done three months following the completion of cervical cancer therapy can show whether patients are cancer-free or need further treatment.

Dr. Julie Schwarz at Barnes-Jewish hospital says without a PET scan it's difficult to tell whether treatment has eliminated cervical tumors.

"Sometimes it's just really hard to be able to see by physical examination small residual tumors and also we don't have a sense of what's going on inside the body in distant locations," said Schwarz, a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology. "For example, like lymph nodes deep in the pelvis, or in the abdomen."

Cancerous tumors grow brightly in the PET scans used in the study.

Schwartz hopes that in the future, post-treatment PET Scans will be part of standard care for cervical cancer patients.

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