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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on December 06, 2005

Georgetown Hospital System to use latest cancer detection technology

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cancer patients and local physicians soon will have a new tool for early tumor detection and cancer treatment, thanks to a mobile imaging unit. Georgetown Hospital System announced today that it will be offering Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography or PET/CT imaging capabilities to help diagnose different types of cancer and to help physicians determine the most beneficial therapy. PET/CT has also been shown to have a unique utility in diagnosing cardiac diseases and various brain disorders.

In partnership with Alliance Imaging, Inc., Georgetown Hospital System has contracted to bring the $2.5 million PET/CT imaging scanner to Georgetown. The mobile PET scanner will be available at Georgetown Memorial Hospital on a scheduled basis beginning December 14.

PET/CT has proved to detect cancerous tumors when they are first occurring or reoccurring. That makes for earlier detection than a CT (computed tomography) scan, used alone, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – the traditional medical tools used to take snapshots inside the body – are capable of providing.

“The PET/CT works much like a CT scan, making three-dimensional images of the inside of the body, including cells where cancer starts. By combining anatomic and physiologic information, PET/CT is often more accurate and efficient than a CT or MRI alone,” explains Robert T. Whitehead III, M.D.

Patients undergoing PET/CT are injected with a radioisotope bound to a form of glucose, which healthy cells feed upon and convert into energy, something cancer cells cannot do as efficiently. In short, cancer cells hold onto glucose and therefore show up as bright spots on a PET/CT scan, indicating that cancer cells are there, still exist post treatment, or have spread.

Conversely, MRI or CT cannot always determine whether a mass is non cancerous, a scar from a tumor removed during surgery or more cancer. The PET/CT can discriminate between dead tissue, normal tissue and growing cancerous cells.

“This imaging partnership is valuable in providing another local component of cancer care. It is a natural complement to diagnostic and treatment options offered at Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center and at other Georgetown Hospital Family locations,” Bruce Bailey, CEO Georgetown Hospital System said.


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.