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Her Health Article

John wrote this aricle and interview for for the Spring 2003 issue of Her Health, a biannual publication of The Washington Hospital sent to women living throughout the hospital's service area.

Advanced Women's Cancer Care at The Washington Hospital

Cancer is never an easy word to hear. However, please be assured that if you or a member of your family need cancer care, weÕre ready to help when you need it most.

At The Washington Hospital, our comprehensive cancer center is an accredited community cancer program, offering a full range of diagnostic treatment tools and services. And our WomenÕs Health Center provides a complete range of womenÕs services that includes breast care, ultrasound, osteoporosis screening and more.

The medical expertise available in our centers is second to none. And, we offer the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology available anywhere, including Positron Emission Tomography (PET), which scans the entire body to locate cancers; and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which uses complex computer planning systems to apply radiation directly to tumors, with minimal exposure to surrounding tissues.

Medical excellence and the latest cancer fighting technology in the region--two more reasons why The Washington Hospital is The Right Choice. Right Here.

Q&A

PET Scanning and the Fight Against Breast Cancer


Michelle Kirshen, M.D., is a radiologist in The Cancer Center at The Washington Hospital.

Q. What is PET scanning?
Positron emission tomography (PET), a state-of-the-art imaging technique, provides early detection of cancer or tumors and reduces the need for invasive surgical procedures. PET scans can be used to evaluate cancer on patients already diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as those already undergoing treatment for recurrent breast cancer.

Q. Does a PET scan screen for breast cancer?
No. But if youÕve been diagnosed with breast cancer, the PET scan enables us to view the entire body to see if there are any other areas of cancer involvement. You must also have a CT scan prior to the PET scan, and physician referral is needed.

Q. How does a PET scan differ from CT and MRI scans?
Unlike CT and MRI, which only scan the parts of the body in which cancer is suspected, PET scans the entire body. By examining and tracking the function of cancer cells, PET detects cancer earlier. WeÕve had instances at The Washington Hospital in which PET has detected concealed, unsuspected cancers in patients who presented with cancer in another part of the body.

Q. What does a PET scan involve?
The patient prepares by fasting for four hours. After her history and medical information are reviewed, the patient receives an injection of non-toxic radioactive material, then is asked to relax for about an hour while the material circulates. Then the scan takes place.

Q. How long does it take to perform the scan?
Only about 40 minutes. The Washington Hospital has one of the fastest PET scanners available.

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Copyright © 2003 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
Please direct all correspondence to JohnFries@aol.com.


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