PET tracers for somatostatin receptor imaging of neuroendocrine tumors: current status and review of the literature

Future Oncol. 2014 Nov;10(14):2259-77. doi: 10.2217/fon.14.139.


Neuroendocrine tumors have shown rising incidence mainly due to higher clinical awareness and better diagnostic tools over the last 30 years. Functional imaging of neuroendocrine tumors with PET tracers is an evolving field that is continuously refining the affinity of new tracers in the search for the perfect neuroendocrine tumor imaging tracer. (68)Ga-labeled tracers coupled to synthetic somatostatin analogs with differences in affinity for the five somatostatin receptor subtypes are now widely applied in Europe. Comparison of sensitivity between the most used tracers - (68)Ga-DOTA-Tyr3-octreotide, (68)Ga-DOTA-Tyr3-octreotate and (68)Ga-DOTA-l-Nal3-octreotide - shows little difference and expertise on the specific tracer used, and knowledge regarding physiological uptake might be more important than in vitro-proven differences in affinity. Using isotopes such as (18)F or (64)Cu might improve these PET tracers further.

Keywords: 18F-DOPA; 64Cu-DOTATATE; 68Ga-DOTANOC; 68Ga-DOTATATE; 68Ga-DOTATOC; PET imaging; cancer; molecular imaging; neuroendocrine tumors; somatostatin receptor imaging.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / metabolism*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods
  • Radiometry
  • Radiopharmaceuticals* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / chemistry
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / metabolism*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Somatostatin