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J Nucl Med. 2012 Jun;53(6):928-38. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.112.105338. Epub 2012 May 11.

Oncologic PET/MRI, part 1: tumors of the brain, head and neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

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Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University of Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany.


In oncology, staging forms the basis for prognostic consideration and directly influences patient care by determining the therapeutic approach. Cross-sectional imaging techniques, especially when combined with PET information, play an important role in cancer staging. With the recent introduction of integrated whole-body PET/MRI into clinical practice, a novel metabolic-anatomic imaging technique is now available. PET/MRI seems to be highly accurate in T-staging of tumor entities for which MRI has traditionally been favored, such as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. By adding functional MRI to PET, PET/MRI may further improve diagnostic accuracy in the differentiation of scar tissue from recurrence of tumors such as rectal cancer. This hypothesis will have to be assessed in future studies. With regard to N-staging, PET/MRI does not seem to provide a considerable benefit as compared with PET/CT but provides similar N-staging accuracy when applied as a whole-body staging approach. M-staging will benefit from MRI accuracy in the brain and the liver. The purpose of this review is to summarize the available first experiences with PET/MRI and to outline the potential value of PET/MRI in oncologic applications for which data on PET/MRI are still lacking.

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