Objective: This study was done to determine the feasibility and potential utility of whole-body PET using the glucose analogue 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) for the detection of primary malignancies and metastatic lesions.
Materials and methods: This was a prospective, nonrandomized study of whole-body FDG-PET imaging carried out at a large university teaching hospital in Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A. The study group consisted of all patients referred for PET imaging (87) with a suspected diagnosis of primary or recurrent malignancy and who had eventual histological confirmation of their lesions.
Results: In the 87 patients, whole-body PET studies were positive (presence of focal FDG uptake relative to surrounding tissues uptake) in 61 of 70 patients (87%) with subsequent biopsy-confirmed primary or recurrent malignant lesions, including carcinomas of breast, lung, ovary, prostate, colon, urinary bladder, and gallbladder origin, as well as malignant melanoma, carcinoid, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and spinal cord astrocytoma. The PET images revealed no focal hypermetabolism at the known site of tumor in patients with primary prostate carcinoma (two), microscopic ovarian carcinoma (two), breast carcinoma (one), low-grade carcinoid tumors (two), and one patient with recurrent microscopic osteogenic sarcoma. The PET studies detected the primary lesion in 15 of 17 patients with breast carcinoma and in 6 of 6 patients with primary lung carcinoma. Of the 17 patients with benign biopsies, 13 patients had FDG-PET studies without focal areas of uptake.
Conclusion: Because of the high glycolytic rate of malignant tissue, the whole-body FDG-PET technique has promise in the detection of a wide variety of both primary and metastatic malignancies. The presence of FDG uptake in benign inflammatory conditions may limit the specificity of the technique. The sensitivity for the detection of malignant lesions was 87% and the positive predictive value was 94%. The whole-body FDG-PET method is promising both in determining the nature of a localized lesion and in defining the systemic extent of malignant disease.