Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in Oncology.

Research paper by Andrea A Gallamini, Colette C Zwarthoed, Anna A Borra

Indexed on: 01 Oct '14Published on: 01 Oct '14Published in: Cancers


Since its introduction in the early nineties as a promising functional imaging technique in the management of neoplastic disorders, FDG-PET, and subsequently FDG-PET/CT, has become a cornerstone in several oncologic procedures such as tumor staging and restaging, treatment efficacy assessment during or after treatment end and radiotherapy planning. Moreover, the continuous technological progress of image generation and the introduction of sophisticated software to use PET scan as a biomarker paved the way to calculate new prognostic markers such as the metabolic tumor volume (MTV) and the total amount of tumor glycolysis (TLG). FDG-PET/CT proved more sensitive than contrast-enhanced CT scan in staging of several type of lymphoma or in detecting widespread tumor dissemination in several solid cancers, such as breast, lung, colon, ovary and head and neck carcinoma. As a consequence the stage of patients was upgraded, with a change of treatment in 10%-15% of them. One of the most evident advantages of FDG-PET was its ability to detect, very early during treatment, significant changes in glucose metabolism or even complete shutoff of the neoplastic cell metabolism as a surrogate of tumor chemosensitivity assessment. This could enable clinicians to detect much earlier the effectiveness of a given antineoplastic treatment, as compared to the traditional radiological detection of tumor shrinkage, which usually takes time and occurs much later.