The role of PET scanning in the detection of recurrent cervical cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2003 Jul;90(1):186-90. doi: 10.1016/s0090-8258(03)00256-7.


Objectives: [(18)F] Fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) has recently been established as a sensitive and specific method of detecting lymph node metastases in newly diagnosed cervical cancer. Little is known about the efficacy of PET for detecting recurrent disease. We evaluated the potential role of FDG PET in the context of suspected recurrent cervical cancer.

Methods: The records of patients undergoing PET scan to evaluate for cervical cancer recurrence between July 1998 and February 2002 were reviewed. Radiographic findings were classified as negative, suspicious, or equivocal. PET scan findings were compared to available clinical data to classify each PET result as a true positive, true negative, false positive, or false negative. Clinical proof of recurrence consisted of a tissue biopsy revealing recurrent cancer within 3 months of the PET scan. Clinical proof of no evidence of disease consisted of a negative tissue biopsy within 3 months or no clinical evidence of recurrence within 6 months after the PET scan.

Results: Twenty-eight patients underwent 37 PET scans. Twenty-nine cases among 22 patients were clinically evaluable for recurrence status. Median age was 42, and stage distribution was IB 1 (n = 3), IB2 (n = 4), IIA (n = 1), IIB (n = 10), IIIB (n = 9), IVB (n = 1). Histologic types included squamous (n = 23) adenocarcinoma (n = 4) and unknown (n = 1). There were 12 true positive PET scans, 13 true negatives, 2 false positives, and 2 false negatives. The sensitivity and specificity of FDG PET for detecting recurrent cervical cancer were 85.7 and 86.7%, respectively. The positive and negative predictive values were 85.7 and 86.7%, respectively.

Conclusions: Whole-body FDG PET is a sensitive and specific tool for the detection of recurrent cervical cancer in patients who have clinical findings suspicious for recurrence. A larger prospective trial will determine whether this modality should be used routinely in conjunction with, or in lieu of, other imaging studies to detect recurrent disease in a broader population of cervical cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18