Appropriate use of positron emission tomography with [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose for staging of oncology patients

Eur J Intern Med. 2014 Jan;25(1):6-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Positron emission tomography (PET) was developed in the mid-1970, and its initial applications were for heart and brain imaging research. Nowadays, this technology is aimed mainly at staging or restaging tumours as it allows the assessment of biochemical processes that are either specific or associated with tumour biology. The full appreciation of PET potentials and limitations among general practitioners and internists cannot be considered achieved and the appropriate use of PET especially when coupled to X-ray computed tomography (CT) is still suboptimal. The majority of PET studies rely on the use of fluorodeoxyglucose labelled with fluorine-18 (FDG), which is a radiopharmaceutical specific for glucose transport and metabolism. PET with FDG is amenable for studying most type of tumours, including those of the head and neck, lung, oesophagus, colo-rectal, gastrointestinal stromal tumours, pancreas, some types of lymphomas and melanoma, whereas in some tumours, including those of the reproductive system, brain, breast and bones, there is a limited role for PET and there is no substantial role for FDG-PET for the bronchoalveolar, hepatocellular, urinary system, testicular, neuroendocrine, carcinoids and adrenal tumours, differentiated thyroid cancers, and several subtypes of malignant lymphoma. Thus, the limits of FDG have stimulated the use and development of other radiopharmaceuticals. These tracers represent the opportunity for expanding the use of PET to other areas in oncology in the near future.

Keywords: Fluorodeoxyglucose; Oncology; Positron emission tomography; Staging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18