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Increased role for PET imaging could improve cancer care

A limitation of current cancer care is the difficulty of quickly assessing how well a therapy is working. However, expanding the use of existing positron emission tomography (PET) technology can provide early and accurate assessment of a tumor's response to a particular therapy allowing physicians to better tailor a patient's treatment, according to Malik Juweid, M.D., associate professor of radiology at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

Writing in the Feb. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Juweid and co-author Bruce Cheson, M.D., of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital, outline the advantages and limitations of PET imaging in assessing cancer therapy and suggest that increasing the role of PET imaging has the potential to further improve cancer care management.

PET is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses radioactivity emitted from injected tracer chemicals to measure and image biological activity. The most commonly used PET radiotracer is fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a radiolabeled form of glucose, which is consumed more avidly by tumors than by normal tissue.

In fact, Juweid's work already has led to changes in how PET is used in cancer care.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in July 2005, Juweid and colleagues showed that adding FDG-PET to the standard computer tomography (CT)-based assessment criteria made the predictions of treatment outcome much more accurate for aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Based on this study, the new internationally accepted criteria will include PET as an essential part of the assessment and management of lymphoma.

"Basically, about half of patients were called partial or incomplete responders because CT found a residual mass after treatment despite lack of any other evidence of disease," Juweid said. "However, PET showed that the residual mass was scar tissue rather than viable
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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-335-9917
University of Iowa
1-Feb-2006


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