Molecular Imaging and Therapy of Liver Tumors

Semin Nucl Med. 2020 Sep;50(5):419-433. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2020.04.004. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


Liver cancer is one of the top leading causes of mortality worldwide. Conventional imaging using contrast enhanced CT and MRI are currently the mainstay of oncologic imaging of the liver for the diagnosis and management of cancer. In the past two decades, especially since the advent of hybrid imaging in the form of PET/CT and SPECT/CT, molecular imaging has been increasingly utilized for oncologic imaging and the variety of radionuclide probes for imaging liver cancers have been expanding. Beyond the usual workhorse of FDG as an oncologic tracer, there is a growing body of evidence showing that radiolabeled choline tracers, C-11 acetate and other new novel tracers may have increasing roles to play for the imaging of liver tumors. On the therapy front, there have also been advances in recent times in terms of targeted therapies for both primary and secondary liver malignancies, particularly with transarterial radioembolization. The concept of theranostics can be applied to transarterial radioembolization by utilizing a pretreatment planning scan, such as Tc-99m macroaggregated albumin scintigraphy, coupled with post treatment imaging. Radiation dose planning by personalized dosimetric calculations to the liver tumors is also being advocated. This article explores the general trends in the field of nuclear medicine for the imaging and treatment of liver cancer above and beyond routine diagnosis and management.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Molecular Imaging*