Purpose: To evaluate use of positron emission tomography (PET) versus computed tomography (CT) in detection of pancreatic cancer and determine the value of quantitative and visual image interpretation of these techniques.
Materials and methods: Within 8 weeks before surgery, 73 patients with suspected pancreatic cancer or chronic pancreatitis underwent imaging with CT and with static PET after injection of 250-350 MBq of 2-(fluorine-18)-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG). Focal FDG uptake, considered a sign of malignancy, was calculated with standardized uptake values (SUVs) 60 minutes after injection.
Results: With FDG PET, pancreatic carcinoma was correctly diagnosed in 41 (95%) of 43 patients, and chronic pancreatitis in 27 (90%) of 30 patients. With an SUV cutoff value of 1.53, both sensitivity and specificity for detection of malignancy were 93%. With CT, pancreatic cancer was correctly diagnosed in 33 (80%) of 41 patients, whereas results in seven (26%) of 27 patients with chronic pancreatitis were false-positive (specificity, 74%).
Conclusion: FDG PET enabled reliable differentiation of pancreatic adenocarcinoma from chronic pancreatitis. The sensitivity and specificity of visual image interpretation with FDG PET was statistically significantly higher (P < .05) than with CT.