Cancer care in the Hamptons just received a major upgrade. The New York Cancer & Blood Specialists unveiled a state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their South Fork location, Southampton Medical Oncology, on Wednesday, December 19.
The new device is a 2018 Discovery IQ manufactured by GE Healthcare, the first of its kind on the East End. It’s capable of performing both positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT), and it provides superior image quality in a shorter scan time while giving patients much less radiation exposure compared to older models. Prior to its installation, Southampton patients would have to drive to the East Setauket location to use a hybrid scanner, but now premium care is easily accessible.
While similar in function, the two scanning techniques detect cancer in different ways and are both vital to diagnosis and management. CT, or CAT, scans use rotating x-rays to detect tumors and assess their size, shape, solidity and exact location in the body. They’ve also been used to find abscesses, strokes, head injuries and internal bleeding.
“From the modalities—the MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds—PET scans are a bit different,” Radiology Manager Ana Pakal explains. “A PET scan looks at the cellular level, and it picks up the disease at an early stage, where with MRIs and CT scans, you have to wait for the disease to progress, then they pick up on it.” PET scans do this by utilizing a radioactive tracer injected into the patient, which gets absorbed more rapidly by cancer cells than by healthy cells. “We review the organs and the tissue, and that tracer that we give them attaches to those organs and it picks up. PET scans are pretty sensitive compared to all the other modalities.” Some doctors have even used this technique to study Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain and seizure disorders.
PET scans are an immensely important first step toward cancer treatment and are frequently recommended by the doctors. “PET scans set the stage for all of our patients, whether they go to chemo or whether they have to go for treatments or if the chemo needs to be changed, because PET scans determine the effectiveness of the chemo and all the procedures that follow it,” Pakal says. “By having it in-house, it works better for the patient.”
With such precise early detection, one might assume that PET scans are the only viable diagnostic imaging technique, however there’s a vitally important reason why Southampton is getting a hybrid scanner. “[Patients] need to wait about three months in order to do a second PET scan, it depends patient to patient, but for those three months we can do CT scans.” The option to follow up on a diagnostic PET scan with a short-interval CT scan, is just one way that New York Cancer & Blood Specialists offer comprehensive, personalized care to their patients.
Southampton Medical Oncology’s new PET/CT scanner will improve the lives of Hamptonites, providing access to the very best that diagnostic imaging has to offer. Operated by a devoted team of radiologists and medical oncologists, it’s a giant step toward a healthier East End.
To learn more, visit nycancer.com or call the Southampton office at 631-751-3000.
Check out more photos from the ribbon-cutting ceremony below.