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Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2009 Mar;8(2):77-87.

Functional imaging of colorectal cancer: positron emission tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and computed tomography.

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The Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, The Cancer Centre, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, UK.


In the past 10 years, overall survival and disease-free survival of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) has improved substantially because of a combination of factors: (1) more accurate staging as a result of advances in imaging technology; (2) refinements in surgical technique; (3) 'curative' metastasectomy for patients with limited metastatic disease; (4) improvements in radiation therapy planning and greater precision of radiation therapy delivery; and (5) increasing chemotherapeutic options, including antiangiogenic and vascular targeting drugs. In this era of 'personalized medicine,' the increasingly individualized treatment of patients with CRC has highlighted the need for functional imaging techniques in addition to conventional anatomic-based imaging. This review discusses the contribution of positron emission tomography to the clinical management of CRC. In addition, evolving techniques such as dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI), DCE computed tomography (perfusion CT), diffusion-weighted MRI, and blood oxygenation level-dependent MRI that might have a future role will be covered.

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