Utility of preoperative [(18)]f fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography scanning in high-risk melanoma patients

Ann Surg Oncol. 2006 Apr;13(4):525-32. doi: 10.1245/ASO.2006.02.008. Epub 2006 Feb 15.


Background: [(18)]F Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (PET) scanning provides functional imaging based on glucose uptake by tumors. Melanoma is a glucose-avid malignancy, and preoperative PET scanning in melanoma patients has the potential to guide appropriate treatment.

Methods: We performed a prospective trial to evaluate the clinical utility of whole-body fluorine 18-labeled deoxyglucose-PET scanning used in addition to standard imaging (contrast-enhanced computed tomographic [CT] imaging of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis) in preoperative stage IIC (T4N0M0), III (any T, N1 to N3, M0), and IV (any T, any N, M1) melanoma patients. Pathologic or clinical follow-up within 4 to 6 months of the imaging studies was used to determine the accuracy of preoperative PET and CT scan findings.

Results: Preoperative imaging findings led to a change in clinical management in 36 (35%) of 103 patients. In 32 (89%) of these patients, the information was accurate. Findings on PET scan alone (14 of 36; 39%) or in combination with CT (20 of 36; 56%) resulted in a treatment change in most patients (34 of 36; 94%). The most common decision was to cancel the operation (19 of 36; 53%). PET scanning was more sensitive than CT scanning in detecting occult disease (68% vs. 48%; P=.05), but both tests were highly specific (92% vs. 95%; P=.7, PET vs. CT).

Conclusions: PET scanning facilitates the appropriate management of high-risk melanoma patients being considered for operative intervention. PET imaging in addition to CT scanning should be strongly considered before operation in patients at high risk for occult metastatic disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18