CEDAR RAPDIS, IA (Feb. 10, 2021) – The Hall-Perrine Cancer Center (HPCC) at Mercy Cedar Rapids has invested in the latest imaging technology for cancer detection and radiation treatment planning. The technology includes a new digital PET-CT scanner, as well as a CT simulation scanner and planning system. This cancer-fighting technology is the most advanced in Cedar Rapids and, when combined, provides unrivaled image quality, as well as faster scan times and a lower radiation dose for patients.
The digital PET-CT scanner was installed in December 2020, and the CT simulation scanner and planning system is scheduled to be installed early this spring.
Here’s how it works: By overlaying the PET-CT scan and the CT simulation scan, HPCC radiation oncologists will be able to outline the cancerous area so that patient treatments can be more accurately targeted to the tumor, while reducing the dose to adjacent, healthy tissue. And, because the new technology provides clearer imaging, doctors will be able to improve patient outcomes by identifying disease sooner and with more precision.
The digital PET-CT scanner produces high resolution 3D images for the most accurate diagnosis and reduces the amount of radiation needed to obtain PET (positron emission tomography) pictures of the human body. The CT (computed tomography) portion also uses less radiation to create the 3D imaging.
“When our medical oncology team is viewing the PET-CT scans from the new scanner, we can see improved image quality, which helps us more readily diagnose patients,” said Deborah Wilbur, MD, HPCC director of hematology and oncology. “The new PET-CT is able to show us diseases that are three times smaller than non-digital scanners, which allows us to identify cancers that other scanners can’t. In addition to being the most advanced PET-CT imaging in Cedar Rapids, patients will also have a more comfortable experience.”
To that end, the imaging table used during the scan is wider to allow patients to lie more comfortably. It’s also lower to the floor so patients can easily get on and off the table. Advancements in image-capturing technology allow for faster scanning times, which significantly shorten the time patients have to lie on the table.
After patients have completed their PET-CT scan, physicians, physicists and dosimetrists are able to evaluate the scan to determine how best to position the patient for the CT simulation scan, based on where the tumor is located in the body.
“With the new technology, the CT simulation scan will only take up to one minute, compared to the previous 15-minute scan time,” said Dr. Wook Lee, MD, HPCC radiation oncologist. “This creates a more efficient and comfortable experience for patients, and also provides a faster turnaround for us to review the scans. Plus, the improved image quality will allow us to better identify the location of the cancer in the body and then utilize the state-of-the-art treatment planning system to create a personalized treatment plan.”
This new technology was made possible by a $2.5 million grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation, in addition to an investment by Mercy Medical Center.