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01.01.2007 | Current Status | Ausgabe 1/2007

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum 1/2007

The Role of Positron Emission Tomography in the Management of Recurrent Colorectal Cancer: A Review

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum > Ausgabe 1/2007
B.Sc., M.B.Ch.B., F.R.C.S.(Edinb.) A. J. M. Watson, M.B.Ch.B., F.R.A.C.S. S. Lolohea, M.B.Ch.B., F.R.A.C.S. G. M. Robertson, M.B.Ch.B., M.Med.Sc., F.R.A.C.S. F. A. Frizelle
Wichtige Hinweise
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Surgery remains the only option for potential cure in patients with recurrent colorectal cancer. Accurate staging modalities aid in the avoidance of futile surgery, which may result in considerable morbidity in patients with incurable disease. Current imaging techniques used in disease staging often are not sensitive enough to identify low-volume metastatic disease. This study reviews the role of positron emission tomography in the assessment of patients with suspected recurrent colorectal cancer.


A literature search using the PubMed, MEDLINE, and Embase database was performed, locating English language articles on positron emission tomography, positron emission tomography, recurrent colon, and/or rectal cancer. The references of these papers were searched manually for further references.


Positron emission tomography is more sensitive and more specific than conventional diagnostic imaging for metastatic disease and local recurrence respectively. Studies confirm the superior ability of positron emission tomography scans compared with conventional diagnostic imaging in differentiating between scar tissue and invasive tumor. Positron emission tomography scanning is more sensitive and specific for the assessment of liver metastases (and probably in patients with lung metastasis) than conventional diagnostic imaging. Positron emission tomography is superior to conventional diagnostic imaging in the investigation of raised carcinoembryonic antigen in the postoperative patient and alters management in approximately 37 percent of patients with recurrent colorectal cancer. The limitations and cost effectiveness of positron emission tomography are discussed.


Positron emission tomography scanning is emerging as the imaging modality of choice for patients being considered for surgery for locally recurrent colorectal cancer. Positron emission tomography has the greatest impact by detecting unresectable disease and thereby averting inappropriate surgery. Despite the high set-up costs, its use seems to be cost effective.

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