Objectives: Positron emission tomography (PET) provides unique insights into molecular pathways of diseases. PET using [F-18]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) has gained increasing acceptance for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment monitoring of various tumour types. The aim of this review is to provide an update on the current status of molecular PET and PET/CT imaging in urological malignancies.
Methods: The current literature on PET and PET/CT imaging was reviewed and summarized for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and germ cell tumours.
Results: Depending on the radiotracer used, PET offers diagnostic information based on glucose, choline or amino acid metabolism and has also been applied to imaging tumour cell proliferation and tissue hypoxia in urological malignancies. The diagnostic performance of FDG-PET is hampered by the renal excretion of FDG and by the low metabolic activity often seen in tumours such as prostate cancer. However, new PET tracers including radiolabelled choline and acetate may offer an alternative approach. There is consistent evidence that FDG-PET provides important diagnostic information in detecting metastatic and recurrent germ cell tumours and it might offer additional information in the staging and restaging of bladder and renal cancer.
Conclusions: Although PET imaging has been shown to be a clinically useful tool, its application in urological malignancies still needs to be fully determined by larger prospective trials. The introduction of novel PET radiopharmaceuticals along with the new technology of PET/CT will likely change the future role of molecular imaging in urological malignancies.