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School of Medicine discoveries

December 10, 2008

The day Dr. Bruce Hillner confirmed PET as the most powerful imaging tool in cancer management

With the most recent release of data from the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR), researchers may have reached the moment of critical mass by confirming the effectiveness of positron emission tomography (PET) in the monitoring of tumor activity across a wide range of cancers.

“During the first year of the study, we verified that PET finds more areas of active cancer than other imaging tools and leads, in some cases, to earlier initiation of subsequent treatment,” said Bruce E. Hillner, M.D., professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, and lead author of the article. “We noted that PET has a clinically significant impact on cancer management, resulting in a change in treatment in more than one out of three cases — or 36 percent of the time.”

The study’s findings were published in the December issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. The study itself was a result of the 2006 launch of NOPR in response to a proposal from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand coverage for PET to include cancers and indications not presently eligible for reimbursement, including cancers of the ovary, uterus, prostate, pancreas, stomach, kidney and bladder.

A draft decision by CMS is expected on January 10, 2009. Following a 30-day comment period, the final National Coverage Determination will be made April 9.

Read more about the study.

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Updated: 04/29/2016