Video: CT vs. PET Scans

In this week’s episode of “What Does That Really Mean?”, Medical Outreach Director Kaylen Jackson discusses the differences between CT and PET Scans. What terms would you like to see us discuss next week?


“Hi, I’m Kaylen Jackson and I am the Medical Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Center. And on this week’s “What Does it Really Mean,” I’m going to be going over the difference between a CT Scan, also known as a CAT scan, and a PET Scan, which are two different but related imaging techniques.

A CT scan is really useful at giving us information about boney structures as well as some soft tissue. It answers the question what does it look like. For example a CT scan is effective at discovering abnormal growths or tumors that could indicate mesothelioma. The way that it’s done is very similar to an X-ray. In fact it utilizes the same technology, except the camera angle is from the top down. And it also provides doctors of a cross-section view. So they can see the patient layer by layer and this gives them information about the organs as well as the surrounding tissue.

A PET scan on the other hand gives us good information about the functioning parts of the body.  So this answers the question “How is it working?” It can be really effective at helping us understand staging because it gives us information about how the cancer is growing. It can also help us understand how a treatment is being effective for a patient.

The way that it’s done is the patient is injected with a tracer that then zooms to the most energy consuming parts of the body. And actually when you look at the scans themselves, it’s gonna look really similar to when you tune in to your local weather channel.  So you’ll see areas of blue and green, as well of hot zones of red and orange.  And these are the most energy consuming areas.  This is going to be the heart, the brain, as well as any areas where there’s rapid cellular growth which could indicate cancer.

If you have any questions or would like any additional information please feel free to give us a call.  And thanks for watching.”

Nadia Persaud joined the Mesothelioma Center in 2011 as the Social Media Community Analyst. She is excited to be spreading awareness about asbestos safety and new developments in the industry with our online community. If you have a story idea for Nadia, please email her at

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