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Nucl Med Commun. 2008 Nov;29(11):934-42. doi: 10.1097/MNM.0b013e32830f4af2.

Functional nuclear medicine imaging of medullary thyroid cancer.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.


Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) originates from parafollicular C cells of the thyroid and accounts for 3-12% of all thyroid cancers. As opposed to other types of dedifferentiated thyroid tumours, MTC cells are highly functional, producing and secreting high amounts of calcitonin and carcinoembryonic antigen. As parafollicular C cells are of neural crest origin, MTC acts as a neuroendocrine tumour also and expresses somatostatin receptors. Although conventional radiological methods such as ultrasonography, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are widely used in the primary diagnosis and staging, they often fail to localize the residual or recurrent disease because the majority of MTC recurrence presents as occult disease. Thus, owing to functional characteristics of MTC, functional imaging modalities of nuclear medicine play a major role in the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for MTC. Among nuclear medicine modalities, Tc(V) -dimercaptosuccinic acid, In-octreotide and I/I-meta-iodobenzylguanidine are commonly used in the diagnostic and even more in postoperative work-up of MTC. Alternatively, F-fluorodeoxyglucose and other positron emission tomography radiopharmaceuticals such as F-fluorodopa or F-fluorodopamine as well as radiolabelled antibodies such as Tc/I/I anticarcinoembryonic antigen, antigastrin, and anticholecystokinin-B have promising results. Functional imaging has a great advantage for nuclear medicine techniques in the routine work-up of MTC patients and also has a wide use in experimental studies.

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