Molecular imaging of cancer with positron emission tomography

Nat Rev Cancer. 2002 Sep;2(9):683-93. doi: 10.1038/nrc882.


The imaging of specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer should allow earlier diagnosis and better management of oncology patients. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a highly sensitive non-invasive technology that is ideally suited for pre-clinical and clinical imaging of cancer biology, in contrast to anatomical approaches. By using radiolabelled tracers, which are injected in non-pharmacological doses, three-dimensional images can be reconstructed by a computer to show the concentration and location(s) of the tracer of interest. PET should become increasingly important in cancer imaging in the next decade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / trends


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Glucose
  • Oxygen