AARS: PET/CT detects recurrence in colorectal cancer

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The use of combined PET/CT can confirm a suspected colorectal cancer recurrence at an early stage, helping significantly in treatment planning and improved targeted patient care, according to a study presented May 5 at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) annual meeting in San Diego.

“With modern surgical techniques and advanced chemotherapy, growing subsets of patients with colorectal cancer recurrences are being considered for treatment with curative intent. Therefore, accurate re-staging and early detection of recurrence is important,” said Rohit Kochhar, MD, consultant radiologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, England.  

The study, performed at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust included 71 patients with suspected colorectal recurrence who underwent FDG PET/CT between April 1, 2007 and August 31, 2008. Fifty-one patients had a suspected local recurrence based upon conventional CT or MR and 20 patients had a suspected recurrence based upon a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test with unremarkable conventional imaging, said Kochhar. All 71 patients underwent a PET/CT scan to confirm recurrence.

 “PET/CT accurately confirmed a recurrence in 40/71 patients. This shows that PET/CT has a definite role in the management of patients with recurrent colorectal cancer in addition to conventional imaging and the CEA test,” said Kochhar.

In colorectal cancer, PET/CT has a significant role in characterizing suspected local disease and in detecting recurrent disease in patients with elevated CEA. However, in patients with negative or indeterminate PET/CT, clinical correlation and histological or imaging follow-up is recommended, Kochhar and his colleagues concluded.