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Cancer Imaging. 2019 Jul 23;19(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s40644-019-0237-1.

PET/MRI and PET/CT hybrid imaging of rectal cancer - description and initial observations from the RECTOPET (REctal Cancer trial on PET/MRI/CT) study.

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Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, SE-901 85, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, SE-901 85, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Surgery, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Radiation Sciences, Oncology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Imaging and Physiology, Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, Sweden.
Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.



The role of hybrid imaging using 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron-emission tomography (FDG-PET), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to improve preoperative evaluation of rectal cancer is largely unknown. To investigate this, the RECTOPET (REctal Cancer Trial on PET/MRI/CT) study has been launched with the aim to assess staging and restaging of primary rectal cancer. This report presents the study workflow and the initial experiences of the impact of PET/CT on staging and management of the first patients included in the RECTOPET study.


This prospective cohort study, initiated in September 2016, is actively recruiting patients from Region Västerbotten in Sweden. This pilot study includes patients recruited and followed up until December 2017. All patients had a biopsy-verified rectal adenocarcinoma and underwent a minimum of one preoperative FDG-PET/CT and FDG-PET/MRI examination. These patients were referred to the colorectal cancer multidisciplinary team meeting at Umeå University Hospital. All available data were evaluated when making management recommendations. The clinical course was noted and changes consequent to PET imaging were described; surgical specimens underwent dedicated MRI for anatomical matching between imaging and histopathology.


Twenty-four patients have so far been included in the study. Four patients were deemed unresectable, while 19 patients underwent or were scheduled for surgery; one patient was enrolled in a watch-and-wait programme after restaging. Consequent to taking part in the study, two patients were upstaged to M1 disease: one patient was diagnosed with a solitary hepatic metastasis detected using PET/CT and underwent metastasectomy prior to rectal cancer surgery, while one patient with a small, but metabolically active, lung nodulus experienced no change of management. PET/MRI did not contribute to any recorded change in patient management.


The RECTOPET study investigating the role of PET/CT and PET/MRI for preoperative staging of primary rectal cancer patients will provide novel data that clarify the value of adding hybrid to conventional imaging, and the role of PET/CT versus PET/MRI.


NCT03846882 .


FDG-PET/CT; FDG-PET/MRI; Lymph nodes; PET/CT; PET/MRI; Rectal neoplasm; Rectal tumour; Staging; Tumour deposits

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