Patients in Northwest Indiana now have access to a new service in Valparaiso that can assist physicians with diagnosing cancer and formulating treatment plans. The PET/CT Scan opened in December in the Porter Regional Hospital Cancer Care Center, located in the Medical Plaza at the hospital’s main campus, 85 E. U.S. Highway 6, Valparaiso. It is Porter County’s only wide-bore CT scanner for those who are larger or have difficulty with smaller spaces.
Staff and physicians toured the facility at an open house on Dec. 18. Construction in the Medical Plaza began in the summer to move the PET/CT from Chesterton to the Valparaiso location.
“Opening the PET/CT service here marks a significant milestone in that we now have comprehensive cancer care services accessible in one, convenient location for our patients,” said Sean Dardeau, Market CEO for Porter Health Care System. The Cancer Care Center already houses medical oncologist offices, radiation oncology services, an infusion center, and the Women’s Center for imaging such as mammography.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is combined with Computed Tomography (CT) to provide specific information about how organs and cells are functioning. In a PET/CT scan, a technician gives a patient an injection of a small amount of radioactive substance. Because cancer cells use more energy than normal cells, they absorb more of the substance than healthy cells. A CT scan then takes pictures of the body using X-rays from different angles. A computer combines these images into detailed 3D images that reveal which cells have absorbed the material, to help physicians understand where cancer might be inside the body.
“PET/CT is primarily used as a diagnostic tool, but we also use it to help with radiation treatment planning after someone has already been diagnosed,” said Jeffrey Quackenbush, M.D., radiation oncologist with Northern Indiana Oncology Center (NIOC), whose physicians provide care within the Porter Cancer Care Center. “We are particularly excited to add technologies like respiratory gating and four-dimensional scanning to track tumor movement during breathing. This will allows us to increase the stereotactic radiation capabilities offered at our facility,” Quackenbush said. He added that NIOC physicians will be adding stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) services around the beginning of 2019 to treat lung patients, among others, more safely and effectively, and with fewer treatments.
As a diagnostic tool, PET/CT provides precise information to help patients and their physicians determine the next best step in treatment.
“When you are faced with a cancer diagnosis, you want to be sure you have access to the services you need to make the best decision possible about treatment. Porter staff and radiologists are expertly- trained to perform and interpret the exams, and do so with caring and compassion. We are very pleased to offer this as part of comprehensive diagnostic services under one roof,” Nancy Babich, Director of Diagnostic Imaging at Porter Regional Hospital.
Patients whose physicians have ordered a PET/CT scan can schedule it by calling Porter Regional Hospital at (219) 983-9399.