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Hell J Nucl Med. 2012 Sep-Dec;15(3):202-5. doi: 10.1967/s002449910055. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Is there an added clinical value of "true"whole body(18)F-FDG PET/CT imaging in patients with malignant melanoma?

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, PET and Bone Densitometry, Level 7, Theatre Block Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, Australia.


Accurate and reliable staging of disease extent in patients with malignant MM is essential to ensure appropriate treatment planning. The detection of recurrent or residual malignancy after primary treatment is important to allow for early intervention and to optimise patient survival. 2-deoxy-2-[(18)F]fluoro-D-glucose ((18)F-FDG) PET or PET computed tomography (PET/CT) is indicated for surveillance of malignant MM due to its high sensitivity and specificity for soft-tissue or nodal recurrences and metastases. It has been claimed that including lower extremities and skull in addition to 'eyes to thigh' images in PET/CT evaluation of metastatic MM routinely is warranted. We have studied retrospectively the reports of whole-body PET/CT scans in all patients with MM scanned in our Department from April 2005 to December 2010. All PET abnormalities in the brain/scalp and lower extremities were tabulated by location and whether they were 'expected' or 'unexpected'. Findings were correlated with pathology, other imaging studies, and clinical follow-up. In this study, 398 PET/CT examinations in 361 patients with MM were included. Results showed that twelve of the 398 (3%) scans had brain/scalp abnormalities, with only 4 (1.0%) showing unexpected abnormalities. Twenty nine of the 398 (7.2%) scans showed lower extremity abnormalities, with only 5 (1.2%) showing unexpected abnormalities. In no case was an isolated unexpected malignant lesion identified in the brain/scalp or lower extremities. In conclusion, whole body PET/CT scan showed about 1% unexpected primary or metastatic MM lesions involving the head or lower extremities, which seldom offered significant additional clinical benefit and were unlikely to change clinical management. No clinically significant change in staging would have occurred. Routine 'eyes to thighs' images were adequate for this subset of patients.

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