Department of Public Affairs

3400 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021


Media Contact:

(for this release only)

Olivia Fermano
(215) 349-5653

April 26, 2001

University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center Forms Strategic Alliance with Integral PET Associates to Create Network of PENN PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Centers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - The University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center and Penn's Department of Radiology have joined with Integral PET Associates, LLC, the nation's leading operator of fixed-site Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning centers, to make one of the most advanced cancer diagnostic tools available to community hospitals throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This strategic alliance, called the PENN PET Program, will create the nation's largest network of PET centers supported by an academic cancer center, marking a major introduction of PET technology into community-based cancer treatment. Integral PET will manage the sites, while Penn radiologists interpret the PET scans and oversee the medical aspects of program.

One of the first and largest cancer networks of its kind, the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Network (UPCN) is comprised of 28 hospitals and a large medical oncology network. Current plans call for opening up to seven PET centers at community hospitals in the UPCN within the next six months. Each of these PENN PET centers will have fixed PET scanners. Future sites may have fixed or mobile scanners, depending on patient demand.

"A primary goal in forming the Cancer Network has been to transfer advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment to the community setting as quickly as possible," said John H. Glick, MD, director of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center and professor of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "PET has shown its diagnostic superiority to other modalities currently in use, and now, through our relationship with Integral, we have the ability to work with our hospital and physician colleagues to bring this capability to their patients."

"Integral PET has a proven track record of being able to cost-effectively install and operate top-quality PET Centers," stated Ronald Lissak, President and CEO of Integral PET. "We've created a proven model of how to successfully build and operate PET centers in a community, while seamlessly integrating PET with other diagnosis and treatment services. With this new initiative we're meeting our goal of bringing PET to patients."
Because of its unique ability to measure metabolic activity, PET can lead to accurate, noninvasive detection and staging of many cancers, including: lung, melanoma, lymphoma, esophageal, colorectal, breast, thyroid, ovarian, cervical, endometrial, pancreatic, testicular, brain, head and neck. Until recently, PET imaging has largely been available only at major academic institutions.

Significant cost and operational factors, coupled with the need of physicians experienced and trained to read and interpret PET scans, have previously hampered its availability to cancer patients outside of major research institutions. Installing and operating a PET scanner typically costs around $1,600,000 in up-front capital costs, plus an additional $800,000 in yearly staff and operational costs.

The combined alliance between Penn and Integral addresses all the complex educational, financial, medical, functional and operational concerns that are needed to install and operate a state-of-the-art PET center in a community-based setting:

*Experts from Penn's Nuclear Medicine/PET division will perform readings, ensuring optimum imaging;

*Integral will assume equipment and construction costs, and the responsibility for installation, maintenance and technical operations, eliminating capital and start-up cost constraints for participating hospitals;

* Referring physicians and patients will have immediate access to top-quality PET services in convenient locations;

*Continuing educational conferences will ensure community hospital radiologists and referring physicians are always up-to-date on PET technology;

* Hospitals will have the opportunity to participate in Penn's radiology clinical trials program in order to bring leading-edge imaging to each hospital.

The University of Pennsylvania has a long history of involvement in the development of PET and in research on its benefits. Dr. Abass Alavi, Penn's chief of Nuclear Medicine, will lead the PENN PET Center physician team. Considered one of the nation's leading PET researchers and clinicians, Dr. Alavi has authored over 400 original papers, 115 book chapters, editorials and reviews, and close to 500 abstracts.

Over the past 25 years, PET has steadily proven its diagnostic superiority. "PET can often identify areas in which cancer is present even before there are changes visible on computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which are anatomic studies rather than metabolic like PET," explained Dr.Alavi. "The scan can also readily differentiate between areas that may show up as a mass on a CT or MRI, but which are scar tissue and not malignant. PET may also reveal evidence of treatment response before structural improvements are seen on CT or MRI."

A patient receiving a PET scan today is injected with a radiopharmaceutical, such as flurodeoxyglucose (FDG), about 45 minutes before the scan, which takes about two hours. The radiopharmaceutical tracer emits signals which are then picked up by the PET scanner. A computer reassembles the signals into images that display the distribution of metabolic activity as an anatomic image. Areas in which cancer is present will show up more brightly on the scan because the disease is more metabolically active than non-cancerous cells. These results help physicians determine if a cancer has spread, if a particular treatment is effective, and if a patient is disease-free.

About the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center

Throughout its history, the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center has been continuously recognized regionally and nationally for its contributions to patient care, research, professional education, and patient and community outreach. The Cancer Center is one of only 37 Comprehensive Cancer Centers approved and designated by the National Cancer Institute. It was among the first cancer centers to receive this prestigious designation, and has maintained this status continuously for nearly 30 years. Information about positron emission tomography, as well as the PENN PET Center Program, will soon be available to patients and health care professionals via Oncolink, the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center's web site at http://www.oncolink.upenn.edu

About Integral PET Associates, LLC

Integral PET Associates is located in New York City and currently operates eight fixed site PET centers in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, DC. It is the nation's largest operator of fixed-site positron emission tomography scanning centers. For more information, go to http://www.integralpet.com.





Press Releases




Events & Calendars



Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms of Use