Melanoma patients can skip brain, extremity scans

Imaging the brain and uninvolved extremities during routine whole-body PET/CT of melanoma wastes scanner time and exposes patients to unnecessary radiation, according to a study presented at the 2006 Academy of Molecular Imaging meeting.

Imaging the brain and uninvolved extremities during routine whole-body PET/CT of melanoma wastes scanner time and exposes patients to unnecessary radiation, according to a study presented at the 2006 Academy of Molecular Imaging meeting.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, melanoma patients used to undergo routine whole-body scanning. A dedicated PET study could take up to 75 minutes; newer PET/CT exams could be acquired in 30 minutes. A retrospective review of 300 cases found that only a negligible number of patients developed metastases in initially uninvolved extremities and/or the brain. Melanoma patients should be scanned the same way as other oncology patients, a protocol that would improve scanner efficiency without compromising diagnostic power or patient safety, said lead investigator Dr. Esther Choi.