Positron emission tomography in urologic oncology

Cancer Control. 2002 Jul-Aug;9(4):335-42. doi: 10.1177/107327480200900408.


Background: Positron emission tomography (PET) is an emerging imaging modality that is being investigated for use in urologic oncology. PET scanning using the radioactive glucose analog FDG has proven to be a highly accurate imaging test for diagnosing and staging a variety of non-urologic cancer types. This review was performed to determine the role of PET imaging in genitourinary malignancies.

Methods: A review of the literature focusing on PET and urologic oncology was performed. The role of PET imaging was reviewed in prostate, bladder, renal, and testicular cancer.

Results: In testicular cancer, PET has a higher diagnostic accuracy than computed tomography (CT) for both staging and re-staging and should be the test of choice for the assessment of a CT-visualized residual mass following chemotherapy. In prostate, renal, and bladder cancer, the current role of PET is still being defined, but it has a high positive predictive value and can be used for problem solving in patients with indeterminate findings on conventional imaging. Its role in the diagnosis and staging of prostate cancer is hampered by the generally low glycolytic rate of most prostate tumors and their metastases. It has shown promise for staging and re-staging patients with advanced-stage disease and aggressive tumors suspected by a high tumor grade and high prostate-specific antigen velocity. PET has also demonstrated success when applied to renal cell carcinoma in classifying indeterminate renal masses as well as residual renal fossa masses following nephrectomy, gauging response to therapy, and staging and re-staging patients with a known diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma.

Conclusions: PET imaging has demonstrated great potential in certain applications, but further investigations are necessary to determine its eventual place as an imaging modality in genitourinary malignancies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed* / trends
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*


  • Radioactive Tracers