Positron-emission tomographic imaging of cancer: glucose metabolism and beyond

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2001 Jan;11(1):16-27. doi: 10.1053/srao.2001.18100.


Positron emission tomography (PET) has become an important diagnostic tool in oncology. We briefly review the physics of PET, instrumentation for imaging, and approaches to radiopharmaceutical production. The principles underlying the use of [(18)F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) are described, and the clinical experience with FDG pertinent to radiation oncology is reviewed. Finally, preliminary studies using PET tracers with greater specificity than FDG for tumor imaging are discussed. Emphasis is placed on underlying principles and those aspects of oncologic PET most applicable to radiation oncology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Glucose