Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Breast Cancer Fight: PET-CT Scan @ NUH Diagnostic Imaging

A PET-CT scan combines a CT scan and a PET scan. They are generally thought to be more accurate in diagnosing cancer than PET or CT scans alone. 

A CT scan takes a series of x-rays all around the body and puts them together to create a 3D picture. The PET scan uses a mildly radioactive drug to show areas of your body where cells are more active than usual... like in cancer-affected areas.  

Since I had already been diagnosed to have early stage breast cancer, Dr Samuel asked me to do a PET-CT scan to see whether it had spread from the molecular activity of my body cells, as I had the aggressive HER2-positive type.

After my first appointment with him, we went to Diagnostic Imaging @ KR Wing L3 to make a deposit and have a briefing with the radiographer. 

It is an expensive scan for the patient, and the cost of operating the machine is expensive for the hospital too so to maximise its usage and prevent missed appointments, you have to make a non-refundable and sizeable deposit first before they confirm the appointment with you to ensure that you will turn up.  

My appointment was at 8.30am on Wed 28 Sep 2022. To prepare for the scan, I was told to fast for 6hrs before the scan and not do any streneous exercises for 12hrs prior. 

Since we were paying so much for the scan, I wanted the best optimal results and also made sure not to drink coffee or eat any sugar or carbs 24hrs before my scan as it might alter the distribution of the PET tracer in my body and lead to a suboptimal scan. I didn't even take my usual supplements, protein shake, Coke Zero or eat any starchy veg!

For clinics at KR Wing, I realise that you can't do early registration via the OneNUHS app. That day, I registered about 8.20am at the clinic and at 8.30am they brought me in for the nurse to check my details, poke the IV needle, remove my jewelry, change into a hospital gown {as I was wearing tights I could keep it on as it did not have any metal parts} and put my belongings into the locker. I could keep my socks and shoes on. 

After that I had my own little private room to rest in {monitored by CCTV} and I was injected with the FDG radiotracer {some sort of glucose} about 9am. I was told to rest and avoid moving too much for an hour to allow the radiotracer to spread through my body and tissues. Cancer cells are more metabolically active and may absorb glucose at a higher rate. This higher rate can be seen on PET scans. 

It was best if I didn't use my phone to calm my mind and body too so I dimmed the lights and just closed my eyes in bed. I was still allowed to drink water and go to the toilet, if I needed. 

About 9.50am the radiographer, Donald, brought me into the scanning room. I was surprised to see that the PET-CT machine was shaped like a large doughnut as I was expecting a big tunnel-like machine.

I lay down on the machine couch with my hands above my head. Donald said that I don't have to hold my breaths when they take the scans like for CT scans. Ok that's good. 

However, I still had to stay still while the machine couch slowly slid backwards and forwards through the scanner to take the pictures. 

The scan itself was pretty fast and took maybe about 15-20mins. After that I sat outside while the nurse removed my IV needle and waited for the radiologist to review the scans and check that they were ok or needed further clarity before I could leave. 

By about 10.30am I paid the bill and was done. I could claim part of the bill from Medisave, but had to pay most of it upfront.

PET-CT scan cost: S$1,938.52 {including deposit of S$600}

Follow my breast cancer fight on the blog, Facebook or Instagram {#AiFightsCancer}

Before mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries

No comments: