PET scan for breast cancer

What is a PET scan for breast cancer?

A PET scan, or Positron Emission Tomography scan, is a type of imaging test that allows doctors to see how organs and tissues are functioning inside your body. It is commonly used to help diagnose or learn more about breast cancer. This imaging test can help determine the stage (development or diagnosis) of your cancer, show the possible spread of cancer to other parts of the body, and determine how well treatment is working.

Pet Scan Preparation

Before the PET scan, you should let your doctor know if you are pregnant, if you have any allergies, and if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. You should also tell your doctor if you have recently had surgery or radiation therapy. Because this test uses a radioactive tracer, your doctor may recommend not having this test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Other preparations for the test including eating light snacks and drinking water before the scan.


The procedure involves having an injection of a radioactive tracer intravenously, usually about an hour before the scan. The tracer will move through your body and accumulate in any cancerous cells. You will then lie on a special exam table and the scanning bed will move slowly to capture images of your organs and tissues. This process usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Types of PET scans

There are two types of PET scans for breast cancer: traditional PET scans and combined PET-CT scans. Traditional PET scans only measure metabolism in the body, while combined PET-CT scans measure both metabolism and diagnosis. Combined PET-CT scans offer a more detailed look at the body than just PET scans alone.


PET scans involve a small amount of radiation exposure that may increase your risk of developing cancer. Generally, the risks are low and the benefits are great. It is also important to note that PET scans are not recommended for pregnant women. If you are pregnant, it is best to avoid having a PET scan.

Why and When to have a PET scan?

A PET scan can be used to detect any areas of increased activity in the body and can be used to screen for or diagnose cancer. It can also be used to monitor changes in tumor size before and after treatment. It is usually recommended to have a PET scan after the diagnosis of breast cancer, and then periodically to keep track of any changes in the tumor or to monitor for the presence of metastases. It is also used to develop a treatment plan and to decide whether surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy is needed.