Positron emission tomography (PET) is a diagnostic imaging technique that allows identification of biochemical and physiologic alterations in tumors. Use of PET performed with 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) significantly improves the accuracy of tumor imaging. In terms of oncologic applications, FDG PET has already gained widespread acceptance in the initial staging of cancer, management of recurrent cancer, and monitoring the response to therapy. With conventional imaging modalities, size criteria are used to distinguish between benign and malignant disease in lymph nodes; conversely, FDG PET is based on identification of fundamental aspects of tumor metabolism. FDG uptake in tumors is proportional to the metabolic rate of viable tumor cells, which have an increased demand for glucose. The high sensitivity and high negative predictive value of FDG PET in most malignant tumors enable this technique to play an even greater role in tumor management at initial staging and follow-up.
Copyright RSNA, 2003