Whole-body PET/CT scan appears useful for determining tumor stage

CHICAGO A new study suggests that whole-body PET/CT imaging should may be more useful than whole-body MRI for determining the extent a tumor has spread, according to an article in the December 24/31 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In malignant diseases, therapeutic options as well as the patients' prognoses strongly depend on the tumor stage, according to background information in the article. Thus, accurate tumor staging encompassing the entire body is of essential importance. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a combined modality including positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) provide means for whole-body tumor staging in a single session. In contrast to MRI, which is mainly focused on the assessment of morphological (structural) characteristics of tissue, glucose analog [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucosepositron emission tomography (FDG-PET) provides functional information on tumor metabolism. The functional data available in whole-body scans complement morphological imaging for staging different malignancies.

PET is a medical imaging technique in which a radioactive 'tracer' is injected into a patient to help determine activity of a certain area of the body. CT imaging is the process of using digital processing to generate a three-dimensional image of an internal section of the body from a series of two-dimensional x-ray images. MRI involves application of an external magnetic field to produce three-dimensional images of body tissues.

Gerald Antoch, M.D., of the University Hospital Essen, Germany, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the staging accuracies of whole-body PET/CT and whole-body MRI for different malignant diseases and to compare these 2 new imaging tools.

The study included 98 patients (mean age 58 years; range, 27-94 years) with various cancers who underwent back-to-back whole-body PET/CT and whole-body MRI for tumor staging. The study was co

Contact: Gerald Antoch, M.D.
JAMA and Archives Journals

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