Positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) for the staging of low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL)

Ann Oncol. 2001 Jun;12(6):825-30. doi: 10.1023/a:1011169332265.


Background: Although PET has been shown to be highly sensitive in the primary staging of lymphoma, previous studies with small numbers of patients indicated that low-grade NHL may not always be adequately detected by PET. We undertook this study to determine factors influencing the detection of lesions by PET in low-grade NHL and to evaluate the utility of PET in this indication.

Patients and methods: Forty-two patients underwent conventional staging procedures (clinical examination, oto-rhino-laryngologic examination, computed tomography of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, gastroscopy and bone marrow biopsy as well as whole-body non-attenuation corrected 18F-FDG-PET RESULTS: PET detected 40% more abnormal lymph node areas than conventional staging in follicular lymphoma but was inappropriate for the staging of small lymphocytic lymphoma where it detected less than 58% of abnormal lymph node areas. PET showed more lesions than conventional staging for peripheral (34% more lymph node areas detected) and thoracic lymph node (39% more) areas but not for abdominal or pelvic lymph nodes (26% fewer areas detected). The sensitivity to detect bone marrow infiltration was unacceptably low for PET. In contrast, PET was as effective as standard procedures for the detection of other extranodal localizations, although a few localizations were detected only by PET and a few others only by conventional procedures.

Conclusions: PET may contribute to the management of patients with low-grade follicular NHL. For the other low-grade lymphoma subtypes, the role of PET is less evident. Further studies using PET to evaluate the results of treatment or to diagnose disease recurrence are warranted in low-grade follicular NHL.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Colon / diagnostic imaging
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18