PET shows promise, innovation in detecting, monitoring cancers specific to women

RESTON, Va.--The use of positron emission tomography (PET) with the radiotracer fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is "underutilized" in diagnosing and treating cancer of the reproductive organs--the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva--according to an article in the November issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Doctors are beginning to see the potential of using PET to look inside a woman's body to find gynecologic disease and its progression--and to follow how a treatment works.

PET imaging with FDG is having a "great impact" in determining the extent of spread of cancers of the reproductive system, especially when doctors get ambiguous results from other conventional imaging tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT), said Neeta Pandit-Taskar, M.D., a nuclear medicine physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. While a woman's reproductive organs are the potential source of life, they can be the starting point of deadly disease in which abnormal body cells grow and spread. Reports indicate that 80,000 women in the United States--or 10 women an hour--are diagnosed with a cancer of the reproductive organs.

Pandit-Taskar's JNM article reviews the role of PET imaging with FDG in current clinical practice, highlighting, for example, the imaging technique's high sensitivity in detecting nodal disease in cervical cancer. PET imaging with FDG "can detect tumor involvement in lymph nodes before they grow bigger and can be detected with other imaging methods. PET is particularly useful in identifying disease in patients in whom anatomy is altered because of surgery or radiation," she said. The imaging technique evaluates the whole body in a single exam, giving doctors a larger scanning area to examine possible metastases (spread) or tumor cells that have broken away from a primary tumor and have traveled to other parts of the body, said the author of "Oncologic Imaging i

Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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