Oct 27, 2021 9:00 AM

Read time: 2 minutes

Author: Matt Covington, MD


Photo of Matt Covington, MD
Matt Covington, MD

Dear Patients, Families, and HCI Community,

Medical imaging plays an important role in detecting cancer and evaluating whether cancer therapies are providing the desired effect. Positron emission tomography scans (PET scans) are among the most advanced cancer imaging studies used for cancer imaging. The Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging (CQCI) at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) produces PET imaging agents (called radiopharmaceuticals) and performs research imaging on PET/CT scanners. As a radiologist specializing in cancer imaging, with fellowship training in breast imaging and nuclear radiology, I am very fortunate to work at HCI as part of the CQCI.

As part of my work at HCI, I lead several clinical trials that study new and existing types of PET imaging agents that may improve detection of breast cancer on PET scans. My most recent clinical trial evaluates a new type of PET agent (18F-Fluoroestradiol) with the hope that this specific type of PET scan will improve our ability to detect invasive lobular carcinoma—a specific type of breast cancer that is difficult to detect on imaging. The initial results of our work are encouraging. A recent participant on this clinical trial sent the following message to one of our exceptional nuclear medicine research technologists that speaks to the potential benefit of our research and our compassionate approach:

“Because of your study, there was more cancer found in me than originally thought. Originally, I was diagnosed with cancer only in my right breast. I originally planned to have a lumpectomy on the right breast. The PET scans that you had me do showed that I had some cancer in my left breast that was undetected on a mammogram or an MRI. I tell you all this because I want you to know how grateful I am to you for helping me be a part of the study. Had I not been a part of it, I would be facing another surgery this year and possibly more problems next year when I went in for my yearly mammogram. Please know how much I appreciate all those involved in the study I participated in. Everyone was so kind. My original thought when I was asked to join your study was, ‘Sure, maybe I can help someone!’ Little did I know that I would be the one who was helped the most!”

The research I conduct at CQCI is only possible thanks to our team of compassionate individuals who have a deep knowledge of medical imaging and clinical trials. Our group has an appetite to learn and innovate. We want to help individuals with cancer receive the best imaging possible. The advances made by our research at CQCI, and the HCI community at large, offer hope today—and in the future—that cancer can be beat.

Sincerely,

Matt Covington, MD

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Cancer touches all of us.

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