PET-CT examination is expensive, nearly 10,000 yuan at a time, is it necessary for ordinary people to do it?

author:Positive Yangtze

As a radiologist who has been practicing medicine for many years, I have had the privilege of witnessing countless cases of early detection of diseases through medical imaging technology. Today, I would like to share a special story that not only changed the fate of a person, but also profoundly demonstrated the unique value of PET-CT examination in modern medicine.

In the late spring of a few years ago, Ms. Zhang (not her real name) came to our hospital with complaints of persistent chest pain and intermittent dyspnea, and the initial diagnosis may be related to heart disease. ECG and conventional CT showed no abnormalities, but her symptoms did not resolve. Given her age and medical history, we recommend that she have a PET-CT scan to rule out other potentially serious problems.

On the day of the examination, Ms. Zhang was a little nervous, worried that such an expensive examination might eventually find nothing, and it would cost nearly 10,000 yuan in vain. We explained to her the importance of this technique, especially when diagnosing some early lesions, PET-CT can provide more detailed information than traditional CT.

As a result, the examination found a small lesion in the upper lobe of her left lung, and the preliminary diagnosis was early-stage lung cancer. This finding is undoubtedly important, and despite the bad news of lung cancer, because of early detection, treatment options are more likely and the success rate is greatly improved. Ms. Zhang later underwent surgery and the lesion was completely removed and she is recovering well.

PET-CT examination is expensive, nearly 10,000 yuan at a time, is it necessary for ordinary people to do it?

Advantages of PET-CT examination

Precise positioning capabilities

A significant advantage of PET-CT is its excellent disease localization. CT scans provide precise anatomical details, such as the size and shape of the tumor, while PET scans reveal the metabolic activity and physiological changes of the tumor. This combination makes PET-CT excellent for locating tumors as small as millimeters and detecting early lesions, especially in diagnosing lung cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma.

Early detection of disease

Early detection is key to treating most diseases, especially cancer. PET-CT is able to detect early signs of disease by detecting small changes in the body before symptoms appear. For example, lung cancer may show areas of hypermetabolism at an early stage of formation with PET-CT that may go unnoticed on routine imaging. This early diagnosis significantly improves treatment success and patient survival.

Guide treatment planning

By showing the metabolic activity of the tumor, PET-CT can not only help doctors determine the degree of malignancy of the tumor, but also assess the tumor's response to treatment. For example, after chemotherapy or radiation therapy, PET-CT can evaluate whether tumor cells have died and whether the tumor has shrunk, so that doctors can adjust their treatment regimens. This is of great value for avoiding overtreatment and for assessing treatment efficacy.

Efficient monitoring of recurrence

Monitoring for recurrence is equally important for cancer patients. PET-CT is often used for periodic check-ups to detect early signs of recurrence due to its high sensitivity and accuracy. This test can accurately distinguish between new tumor activity and changes caused by non-tumor factors, such as inflammation, and help doctors develop more precise monitoring plans and timely interventions.

PET-CT examination is expensive, nearly 10,000 yuan at a time, is it necessary for ordinary people to do it?

Do the average person need PET-CT?

High-risk populations

PET-CT may be a sensible choice for the following high-risk populations:

Genetic predisposition: There is a history of cancer in the family, especially if someone in the immediate family (parents, siblings) has cancer.

Long-term smokers: Smoking is widely recognized as a significant risk factor for many types of cancer, especially lung cancer.

Hazardous work environment: People who have been exposed to high-risk environments such as radioactive materials, chemical toxins, asbestos, etc. for a long time.

People with certain pre-existing symptoms: Symptoms such as long-term cough, hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, and recurrent fever may be signs of certain types of cancer in the body.

Symptom observation

Not everyone needs a PET-CT scan, but if the following symptoms occur, it is advisable to consult your doctor if further tests are needed:

Persistent low-grade fever: A slight increase in body temperature that lasts for several weeks or even longer.

Unexplained fatigue: Persistent fatigue in the absence of significant exertion that does not relieve with rest.

Significant weight loss: Lose more than 5% of your body weight in a short period of time for no apparent reason.

Night sweats: Especially if these symptoms occur at the same time as fever, weight loss.

Doctor advises

The decision to perform PET-CT should be based on the following considerations:

Doctor's evaluation and recommendation: Based on the individual's health condition, family medical history, and the above symptoms, the doctor may recommend a PET-CT scan to rule out or confirm the disease.

Preventive tests: For some people who have a higher risk of cancer but have no obvious symptoms, your doctor may recommend regular PET-CT tests as a preventative measure.

PET-CT examination is expensive, nearly 10,000 yuan at a time, is it necessary for ordinary people to do it?

Alternatives and complementary measures

Alternative inspection methods

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Availability: Suitable for detailed imaging of soft tissues such as the brain, spine, and internal organs.

Advantages: No radiation is involved, suitable for patients with frequent examinations.

Limitations: The cost remains high and is not suitable for patients with built-in medical devices such as pacemakers.

CT scan (computed tomography)

Use: Rapid check, for emergencies such as accidental injury or serious infection.

Advantages: Cheaper than PET-CT and faster inspection.

Limitations: The radiation dose is relatively high, making it unsuitable for routine screening.


Indications: Screening for pregnant women, abdominal and heart diseases.

Advantages: low cost, no radiation, easy to operate.

Limitations: Image quality is limited and may require reliance on operator experience.


Indications: Commonly used to examine fractures, lungs, and thoracic cavity.

Pros: Lowest cost, generally available.

Limitations: Radiation is relatively high, and image detail is not as good as CT and MRI.

PET-CT examination is expensive, nearly 10,000 yuan at a time, is it necessary for ordinary people to do it?

Complementary measures

Healthy lifestyle habits

Diet: Eat a balanced intake of various nutrients, increase the proportion of vegetables and fruits, and reduce the intake of processed foods and high-fat foods.

Exercise: Engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week on a regular basis, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.

Avoid bad habits: Quit smoking, stop drinking, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and limit your intake of high-sugar drinks and foods.

Regular medical check-ups

Frequency of physical examination: According to the individual's health condition, a comprehensive physical examination should be conducted at least once a year.

Indicators of concern: Pay attention to indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and tumor markers.

Early prevention of disease

Vaccination: Influenza vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, etc. as recommended by the doctor.

Health monitoring: Use smart devices to monitor heart rate, sleep quality, and more to detect potential health problems in a timely manner.

With the above alternatives and complementary measures, it is effective to maintain good health without PET-CT and detect potential health problems in time. These methods are not only economical, but also reduce the number of problems caused by examinations