PET/CT of esophageal cancer: its role in clinical management

Radiographics. 2007 Nov-Dec;27(6):1635-52. doi: 10.1148/rg.276065742.


Positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) has important utility and limitations in the initial staging of esophageal cancer, evaluation of response to neoadjuvant therapy, and detection of recurrent malignancy. Esophageal cancer is often treated by using a combined modality approach (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and esophagectomy); correct integration of PET/CT into the conventional work-up of esophageal cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach that combines the information from PET/CT with results of clinical assessment, diagnostic CT, endoscopic gastroduodenoscopy, and endoscopic ultrasonography. PET/CT has limited utility in T staging of esophageal cancer and relatively limited utility in detection of dissemination to locoregional lymph nodes. However, PET/CT allows detection of metastatic disease that may not be identifiable with other methods. PET/CT is not sufficiently reliable in the individual patient for determination of treatment response in the primary tumor. Interpretation of PET/CT results is optimized by understanding the diagnostic limitations and pitfalls that may be encountered, together with knowledge of the natural history of esophageal cancer and the staging and treatment options available.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Artifacts
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Colonic Neoplasms / secondary
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*