Key words: Fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose – Positron emission tomography – Medullary thyroid cancer – Calcitonin – Compartment-orientated microdissection
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. The early detection of metastases from medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is important because the only curative therapy consists in surgical removal of all tumour tissue. There is no single sensitive diagnostic imaging modality for the localization of all metastases in patients with MTC. Therefore, in many cases several imaging modalities (e.g. ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography and scintigraphy using pentavalent technetium-99m dimercaptosuccinic acid, thallium-201 chloride, indium-111 pentetreotide, anti-CEA antibodies or metaiodobenzylguanidine) must be performed consecutively in patients with elevated calcitonin levels until the tumour is localized. In this prospective study, we investigated the value of fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]FDG PET) in the follow-up of patients with MTC. [18F]FDG PET examinations of the neck and the chest were performed in 20 patients with elevated calcitonin levels or sonographic abnormalities in the neck. Positive [18F]FDG findings were validated by histology, computerized tomography or selective venous catheterization. [18F]FDG PET detected tumour in 13/17 patients (nine cases were validated by histology, four by computerized tomography). Five patients showed completely negative PET scans (of these cases, one was true-negative and four false-negative). One patient with [18F]FDG accumulation in pulmonary lesions from silicosis and one patient with a neck lesion that was not subjected to histological validation had to be excluded. Considering all validated localizations, [18F]FDG PET detected 12/14 tumour manifestations in the neck, 6/7 mediastinal metastases, 2/2 pulmonary metastases and 2/2 bone metastases. In two patients with elevated calcitonin levels, no diagnostic modality was able to localize a tumour. The sensitivity of [18F]FDG PET in the follow-up of MTC was 76% (95% confidence interval 53%–94%); this is encouraging. [18F]FDG PET promises to be a valuable diagnostic method, especially for the detection of lymph node metastases, surgical resection of which can result in complete remission.
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