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PLoS One. 2018 May 10;13(5):e0196808. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196808. eCollection 2018.

Role of 18F-FDG PET/CT in patients without known primary malignancy with skeletal lesions suspicious for cancer metastasis.

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Department of Radiology, Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Gyeonggi, Korea.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



When subjects without a known malignancy present with suspicious skeletal lesions, differential diagnosis and primary cancer identification is important. Here, we investigated the role of FDG PET/CT in this clinical situation.


We enrolled 103 patients with no known malignancies who were referred for FDG PET/CT because of bone lesions that were suspicious for cancer metastasis. Each extra-skeletal FDG lesion was categorized as consistent with primary cancer or with metastasis based on the distribution and pattern of all abnormal lesions in the individual.


Final diagnosis revealed that bone lesions represented cancer metastasis in 75 patients (72.8%). In the remaining 28 patients (27.2%), they were from other causes including multiple myeloma or lymphoma, malignant primary bone tumor, and benign bone disease. PET/CT indicated a primary cancer in 70 patients (68.0%). This was the correct primary site in 46 cases and the incorrect site in 13 cases (including 6 cases with cancer of unknown primary, CUP). In the remaining 11 cases, the bone lesions were due to other causes. PET/CT did not indicate a primary cancer in 33 patients (32.0%). Of these cases, 17 did not have a primary cancer, 8 had CUP, and 8 had primary cancers that were missed. Thus, PET/CT had a sensitivity of 61.3% and specificity of 60.7% for primary cancer identification in the entire population. Excluding patients with CUP, PET/CT sensitivity was 75.4%. PET/CT also provided information useful for recognizing multiple myeloma and benign bone disease as the cause of the skeletal lesions.


In patients without known malignancies with suspected skeletal cancer metastasis, FDG PET/CT can help identify the primary cancer and provide useful information for differential diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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