A local radiology group's participation in a national study of cancer patients who had positron emission tomography scans is changing the way people living with cancer receive their treatment.

Corpus Christi-based Radiology Associates is one of more than 1,200 facilities participating in the National Oncologic PET Registry that contributed data to the national review.

Reported March 24 in the online version of Journal of Clinical Oncology, data was derived from the National Oncologic PET Registry which included nearly 23,000 patients nationwide.

According to the study, clinicians changed the intended care of cancer patients as the result of the PET scan data. Researchers found that PET scans are associated with a 36.5 percent change in the decision of whether or how to treat a patient's cancer.

Researchers said they were surprised by the impact of the PET findings on patients who were originally scheduled to have a biopsy.

The procedure was avoided in approximately three-quarters of these patients, according to the study.

"We are pleased to participate in this innovative project and to learn of these positive results," said Dr. Everett Gayle, medical director nuclear medicine/PET services at Radiology Associates. "This is real proof that PET scans can make life-changing contributions to cancer patient care."

PET imaging, or PET scan, is a test that images the function of cells to show differences between healthy tissue and diseased tissue. It uses a small amount of a radioactive chemical that is combined with sugar.

This combination is called FDG, so the test is sometimes called an FDG-PET scan. It is used to evaluate various neurological and cardiac disorders, as well as for diagnosing, staging and monitoring the treatment of many different cancers.

For more than 50 years, Radiology Associates has remained Corpus Christi's largest group of radiology professionals. Comprised of 15 board-certified radiologists and six outpatient imaging centers, the medical group offers nuclear medicine, PET, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, digital mammography, DEXA bone densitometry, and X-ray testing, as well as subspecialty expertise in musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, women's imaging and nuclear medicine.