PET Molecular Imaging: A Holistic Review of Current Practice and Emerging Perspectives for Diagnosis, Therapeutic Evaluation and Prognosis in Clinical Oncology

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 16;22(8):4159. doi: 10.3390/ijms22084159.


PET/CT molecular imaging has been imposed in clinical oncological practice over the past 20 years, driven by its two well-grounded foundations: quantification and radiolabeled molecular probe vectorization. From basic visual interpretation to more sophisticated full kinetic modeling, PET technology provides a unique opportunity to characterize various biological processes with different levels of analysis. In clinical practice, many efforts have been made during the last two decades to standardize image analyses at the international level, but advanced metrics are still under use in practice. In parallel, the integration of PET imaging with radionuclide therapy, also known as radiolabeled theranostics, has paved the way towards highly sensitive radionuclide-based precision medicine, with major breakthroughs emerging in neuroendocrine tumors and prostate cancer. PET imaging of tumor immunity and beyond is also emerging, emphasizing the unique capabilities of PET molecular imaging to constantly adapt to emerging oncological challenges. However, these new horizons face the growing complexity of multidimensional data. In the era of precision medicine, statistical and computer sciences are currently revolutionizing image-based decision making, paving the way for more holistic cancer molecular imaging analyses at the whole-body level.

Keywords: PET; computer science; molecular imaging; multimodality; quantification; theranostics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / standards
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / classification


  • Radiopharmaceuticals