PET/CT can identify new cancer lesions at early stage, allowing for prompt treatment

05/27/05

Johns Hopkins researchers study nearly 2,000 cancer patients and detect unexpected, additional malignancies

RESTON, Va. -- A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Md., reports that whole-body positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scans may help physicians identify new, unexpected malignant cancerous tumors in patients, according to an article in the May issue of the Society of Nuclear Medicine's Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

"PET/CT can help find additional lesions in patients known to have cancer," said SNM member Richard L. Wahl, M.D., director of nuclear medicine/PET at the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. PET/CT scans from nearly 2,000 cancer patients over a two-year period were evaluated retrospectively, explained Wahl, who was one of the first in the world and the first in this country to prove that PET could accurately diagnose breast cancer, melanoma and ovarian cancer and that it was superior to CT in staging lung cancer.

Wahl explained that in patients with known cancer, work-ups focus on a patient's primary disease and incidental coexistence of another primary malignant lesion can be missed. "Such newly identified lesions are often of early stage and have a better likelihood of being cured if treated promptly and aggressively," indicated Wahl, the senior author who co-wrote the JNM article, "Detection of Unexpected Additional Primary Malignancies With PET/CT," with SNM members Takayoshi Ishimori, M.D., Ph.D. (lead author), and Pavni V. Patel, M.D. Results of modern techniques such as PET/CT can be "potentially medically significant and relevant," said Wahl.

PET is a powerful medical imaging modality that noninvasively traces molecular and physiologic processes in the body. Currently, the most common use of PET is for whole-body oncologic imaging for diagnosis, staging, restaging and measuring early therapy responses. CT is an X-ray test that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. Combining PET with CT provides images showing function (PET) and anatomy (CT) and a merged or "fused" picture of the body's metabolism and structure.

Media representatives: To obtain a copy of this article and related images, please contact Maryann Verrillo by phone at 703-708-9000, ext. 1211, or send an e-mail to mverrillo@snm.org. Current and past issues of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine can be found online at http://jnm.snmjournals.org. Print copies can be obtained at $20 per copy by contacting the SNM Service Center, Society of Nuclear Medicine, 1850 Samuel Morse Drive, Reston, VA 20190-5316; phone 800-513-6853; e-mail servicecenter@snm.org; fax 703-708-9015. A subscription to the journal is an SNM member benefit. Nonmember subscriptions are $210 for individuals and $318 for institutions.

About the Society of Nuclear Medicine

The Society of Nuclear Medicine is an international scientific and professional organization of more than 16,000 members dedicated to promoting the science, technology and practical applications of molecular imaging/nuclear medicine. SNM is based in Reston, Va.; additional information can be found online at http://www.snm.org.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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