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PET/CT Imaging of Thyroid Cancer

Mosci, Camila MD; Iagaru, Andrei MD

doi: 10.1097/RLU.0b013e3182291d03
Atlas Article

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a highly sensitive, low invasive technology for cancer biology imaging. The role of F-18 FDG PET/CT in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is well established, particularly in patients presenting with elevated Tg levels and negative radioactive iodine WBS. It has been demonstrated that F-18 FDG uptake represents less differentiated thyroid cancer cells or dedifferentiated cells and PET positive lesions are more likely to be resistant to 131I treatment. The uptake of F-18 FDG is related to tumor size, thyroid capsule invasion and histological variants with a poor prognosis. As in other cancers, early detection of recurrences improves outcomes and survival. 124I PET/CT can also be used to image the patients with DTC, similarly to 123I WBS. Compared with F-18 FDG PET/CT, its spatial resolution is only slightly degraded but increasing the imaging time reduces this difference. In addition, F-18 FDG PET/CT has been found helpful in the management of patients with anaplastic and medullary thyroid cancer. Other radiopharmaceuticals such as 68Ga-DOTATOC and F-18 DOPA may provide complimentary information to F-18 FDG PET/CT in the detection of recurrent thyroid cancer.

From the Division of Nuclear Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA.

Received for publication February 19, 2011; revision accepted April 1, 2011.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Andrei Iagaru, MD, Division of Nuclear Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, 300 Pasteur Dr, H-2200, Stanford, CA 94305–5281. E-mail:

Copyright © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.