Being Scanned

This is just a simple progress update. Don't expect anything particularly insightful or interesting at the stage! But I still urge you to keep reading, obviously.

A normal part of the post-cancer diagnosis is having a full body PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to discover the full extent of the cancer spread. Furthermore it gives the doctors a 'before' snapshot of my body so they can see how it responds to treatment. A PET scan consists of fasting for 8 hours or so to flush the body of glucose. This glucose is then replaced intravenously with a radioactive version which is detected by the scanner.

So part one of my day - radioactive glucose. The glucose is injected and then the body distributes it as normal, as though I had eaten something sugary. The glucose is usually metabolised in the muscle to do exercise, but that is not what the doctors want to observe. So I had to lie down, perfectly still, for 90 minutes. BORING.


Part two - PET/CT scan. PET detects the distribution of the previously injected radioactive glucose. CT creates X-ray slices of my body. Then a computer compiles the two into sliced images of my body with the cancer cells highlighted. The machine was okay. It's a tube, open on both ends, which runs silently. I almost nodded off.

Part three - PET/MRI scan. In this case it was optional to undergo the scan. I received a call from the hospital to say that they had invested in some new fancy scanner and wanted me to test it out. The benefit to me is that a 3D image of my body is generated which gives my medical team better understanding of what's going on. PET/MRI works quite similarly to the other scan except it uses powerful magnets. What a future we live in, eh? This machine was not very pleasant. Anybody who has previously had an MRI will tell you that it's not great fun. It's very noisy, claustrophobic and lasts for what seems like forever. True. But this machine had an extra treat! I was strapped in with heavy detectors on my chest and some crazy cage over my face.

So that's it for now. The results will come through shortly. In the meantime, I have my first consultation with the haematology team of University College Hospital.

Joshua Lerner

Hi! I’m the 'star' of Livin' With Lymphoma. The blog was founded on the 31st October 2013, on the day I was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin's lymphoma. I hope you find it funny and informative.

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