PET scanning in lung cancer: current status and future directions.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, St. Andrew's Place, East Melbourne, Vic, Australia.
Seminars in Surgical Oncology 02/2003; 21(3):149-55. DOI: 10.1002/ssu.10032
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Positron emission tomography (PET) represents a dramatic advance in the imaging of lung cancer. It is valuable for the diagnosis, staging, prognosis, and restaging of disease, and is most useful in patients considered for potentially curative therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this work the current status and potential future applications of PET scanning in lung cancer are discussed. The relevant literature is also discussed, with an emphasis on studies with clinical applicability. Most of these studies involved the use of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Numerous studies of the use of PET to assess undiagnosed pulmonary nodules have reported significant improvements in accurate diagnosis or exclusion of malignancy compared to conventional structural imaging alone. All of these studies, including metaanalysis, have shown that PET is more accurate than CT-based structural imaging in staging the mediastinum in surgical candidates. PET may have value in radiotherapy planning, and PET-based staging more accurately predicts survival in radiotherapy-treated patients than conventional staging. The rate of unsuspected distant metastasis detection in stage III disease exceeds 20%. PET also facilitates an accurate assessment of response in patients treated with radical chemoradiation or neoadjuvant therapy prior to surgery. PET has rapidly become an indispensable part of the evaluation of patients with potentially curable lung cancer; however, more work is required to define its role.