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Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 2006;(243):116-22.

Role of positron emission tomography in the (re-)staging of oesophageal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands. m.westerterp@AMC.UVA.NL



Various studies have demonstrated that 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), measuring altered tissue glucose metabolism, is a promising non-invasive method for detecting both distant nodal and haematogenous metastases in patients with oesophageal carcinoma (OC) and might thus prevent futile esophagectomy. Moreover, FDG-PET is a promising tool in assessing response to non-surgical treatment, and might therefore be used for an early decision on whether treatment should be stopped or continued.


Review of the recent literature regarding the diagnostic performance of FDG-PET in the preoperative staging of patients with OC and regarding diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET in assessing response to neoadjuvant therapy in patients with OC compared to conventional techniques (especially computed tomography (CT) and endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS)).


A search of the literature resulted in the inclusion of 16 studies on the diagnostic value of FDG-PET. Sensitivity and specificity for the detection of locoregional metastases were moderate. Sensitivity and specificity were reasonable for distant metastases. The diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET in assessing response to treatment was similar to the accuracy of EUS, but significantly higher than that of CT.


The staging value of FDG-PET in OC patients is limited in the detection of locoregional metastases; however; its value is higher in the detection of distant lymphatic and haematogenous metastases. Moreover, FDG-PET is a valuable tool for the non-invasive assessment of histopathologic tumour response after neoadjuvant therapy..

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