Does anyone know what it means when you have a PET Scann and they talk about SUV related to a number. Example This has a peak of SUV of 4.5.

Thanks, Kim

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The higher the SUV the more active (bad) the cancer is. Our Dr told us that a normal (no cancer) arm at rest would have SUV of 1.

My wife's lung tumor first had rating of SUV 7.5. After a year of 2 different types of chemo, her lung tumor is now a 2.9. Which is a lot better. She still has cancer (Stage IV NSLC) but the tumor in her lung has a lower cancer activity rating.


"SUV stands for standard uptake value. In general any lesion seen on the scan with SUV of more than 3 indicates metabolic activity, that is, it is not scar tissue. It maybe hypermetabolic due to infections, or inflammation or cancer. Higher number means more metabolic activity."


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I wanted to add that you should try not to read too much into it. Sometimes the SUV going up means cancer death or inflammation. In my case it was completely inflammation. Of course, I didn't know that until it was surgically resected (over 95% was either dead tissue or inflammation). I spent a lot of energy on unecessary anxiety because of escalating values.


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Thanks and Linda. That helps alot. It hard to sometimes understand a Pet Scan that your Dr. has not even talked with you about. I am still waiting to hear from him although I received the Pet Scan results last Thursday.

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Thank you so much for your words. I finished treatment 4-07 and this PET showed an increase in the lingula where the radiation was from SUV 2.9 to 4.4 with a slighty bumpier appearance. I was told the tumor was gone and have been having PET's to monitor. The evaluation by doc was that it could be ongoing changes from treatment, but my oncologist wants me to have a biopsy if safe and possibly check out surgery now. I was not a candidate before. This has upset me because I was doing so well.

I am going to take your advice and try to relax.

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I finished high-dose radiotherapy in January, and had my first PET scan on 5/26/09. My oncologist had seen an earlier MRI and had told me there was a significant amount of scar tissue in the lung after tx. My report reads: "Decreased size of right upper lobe spiculated mass, now 2.9 x 2.1 centimeters with maximum SUV 5.3 (9.4 on prior)." There's no mention of any scar tissue in the PET scan report (which might be typical, I don't know). Should I assume I still have cancer in the tumor? Both my oncologist and radiologist have told me the SUV is probably a result of the radiation and the fact that it's continuing to shrink is a good sign that it's dying, but I'm not convinced; 5.3 seems high to me. They're telling me all we can do at this point is we will "watch it," and my next PET is scheduled at the end of August. Can anyone give me info on this, or if what they're telling me sounds logical?

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Dr West at has an excellent interview on PET scans.

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Hi Doug -

My recommendation is to post a new discussion in this support group so that more people will see your question. Go to the "Discussions" tab in the dark blue area at the top and choose "Start a discussion." You'll probably get a lot more answers that way!

Hope this helps,

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Thanks, Carey. :)

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