Application of positron emission tomography imaging to cancer screening

Br J Cancer. 2000 Dec;83(12):1607-11. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2000.1496.


Whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) with(18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is a diagnostic modality that can noninvasively survey the entire body and sensitively detect various cancers. In this study, we examined the potential application of whole-body PET for cancer screening in asymptomatic individuals. PET was performed in conjunction with conventional examinations including physical examination, laboratory study, ultrasonography and chest computed tomography. Between September 1994 and March 1999, 3165 asymptomatic individuals participated in 5575 screening sessions (2017 men and 1148 women; mean +/- SD age, 52.2+/-10.4 years). Follow-up periods were no less than 10 months. PET results were compared with the screening outcomes. Within 1 year after screening, malignant tumours were discovered in 67 of the 3165 participants (2.1%). PET findings were true-positive in 36 of the 67 cancers (54%). Most of the 36 patients underwent potentially curative surgery; thus a wide variety of cancers were detected by PET at potentially curable stages. However, PET findings were false-negative in 31 of the 67 patients (46%). 14 of these 31 (45%) were of urological origin. FDG PET imaging has the potential to detect a wide variety of cancers at potentially curable stages. However, PET imaging is not suited to screening test of general population because PET examination involves substantial cost.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18