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Ann Oncol. 2008 Feb;19(2):390-4. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

[18F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) as a diagnostic tool for neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs): a long-term clinical study.

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Department of Neurology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Kings College London, London, UK.



Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs) are difficult to detect in neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) individuals. The purpose was to evaluate [(18)F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) and PET computed tomography (CT) as a diagnostic tool for MPNST in NF1 patients with symptomatic plexiform neurofibromas and to verify the diagnosis by pathology and clinical follow-up.


NF1 individuals with symptomatic plexiform neurofibromas underwent clinical evaluation and magnetic resonance imaging. Qualitative FDG PET and PET CT associated with semi-quantitative maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax) assessed possible malignant change. Excision/biopsy verified the diagnosis when possible and clinical follow-up was undertaken in all patients.


In all, 116 lesions were detected in 105 patients aged 5-71 years, including 80 plexiform neurofibromas, five atypical neurofibromas, 29 MPNST and two other cancers. Biopsy confirmed the findings in 59 tumours and no MPNST was diagnosed on clinical follow-up of 23 lesions diagnosed as benign on FDG PET and PET CT. FDG PET and PET CT diagnosed NF1-associated tumours with a sensitivity of 0.89 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76-0.96] and a specificity of 0.95 (CI 0.88-0.98), but the SUVmax level did not predict tumour grade.


FDG PET and PET CT is a sensitive and specific diagnostic tool for NF1-associated MPNST. Other PET tracers will be required to solve the problem of predicting tumour grade.

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