Positron emission tomography (PET) is used extensively in clinical oncology for tumor detection, staging and therapy response assessment. Quantitative measurements of tumor uptake, usually in the form of standardized uptake values (SUVs), have enhanced or replaced qualitative interpretation. In this paper we review the current status of tumor quantification methods and their applications to clinical oncology. Factors that impede quantitative assessment and limit its accuracy and reproducibility are summarized, with special emphasis on SUV analysis. We describe current efforts to improve the accuracy of tumor uptake measurements, characterize overall metabolic tumor burden and heterogeneity of tumor uptake, and account for the effects of image noise. We also summarize recent developments in PET instrumentation and image reconstruction and their impact on tumor quantification. Finally, we offer our assessment of the current development needs in PET tumor quantification, including practical techniques for fully quantitative, pharmacokinetic measurements.
Keywords: Positron emission tomography; tumor quantification.