The latest cancer-fighting tool at Rapides Cancer Center is now fully operational.

The 64-slice PET/CT scanner is used to help stage patients for their cancer treatments. Installation of the $1.6 million machine began in March. Rapides Cancer Center is the only cancer center in the region with a PET scanner onsite, which allows radiation and medical oncologists the ability to determine which tissues are involved with cancers and which ones are not. This results in better treatment options and outcomes.

“A PET/CT is a valuable tool for any doctor who treats cancer,” said radiation oncologist Bryce Beard, M.D. “It is important in many cancers for staging, monitoring of treatment response, and for surveillance. It can also be used during radiotherapy planning to enhance our treating and planning.”

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a non-invasive procedure that images the function of cells to show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. For a PET scan, a patient is injected with a radioactive tracer made of sugar. Many tumors will absorb more of the radioactive tracer than normal cells that surround the tumor. The PET scan detects the abnormal cell function through the creation of 3D color images

“The PET/CT scanner allows us to pinpoint radiation treatment to precisely where it is needed,” said Dr. Beard. “Combined with our TrueBeam linear accelerator, it provides our patients with better overall outcomes.”

The Rapides Cancer Center installed its new linear accelerator last fall as part of a $10 million investment into the oncology program at Rapides Regional Medical Center.