PET poised for breakthrough

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As a result of data published by the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this month proposed a national coverage determination (NCD) to expand coverage of PET imaging for initial diagnostic cancer testing.

The proposed decision would remove a significant part of the coverage with evidence development requirement for PET scans in cancer and allow coverage for one PET scan to guide the initial treatment strategy.

This represents “a significant step in the right direction toward delivering the value of PET imaging to Medicare beneficiaries,” according to Ilyse Schuman, managing director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA). A group that could see immediate benefit from the NCD may be inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients.

Although a small cohort, in terms of total breast cancer cases, IBC is very aggressive. As such, early detection and staging of the disease allows physicians to develop appropriate therapy approaches.

A team of Houston-based scientists turned to PET/CT to evaluate the disease and found that it allowed them to identify the precise location and extent of metastasis—offering the potential for a better prognosis for patients with this form of cancer.

Turning from PET, investigators at facilities in Shanghai, China, have used another hybrid modality, SPECT/CT, to help guide treatment of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer.

The research team prospectively evaluated the utilization of SPECT/CT against planar whole-body scintigraphy and found that it resulted in modification of therapeutic strategies in nearly 75 percent of the of the study cohort.

In other news, if you or your group is interested in finding out more about the possibilities for molecular imaging in your practice head over to our Healthcare TechGuide and check out the variety of systems offered there.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the utilization of molecular imaging and nuclear medicine in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor