Study: PET demonstrates pancreatic tumor aggressiveness

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Researchers have identified a blood flow and glucose consumption mismatch that predicts the aggressiveness of pancreatic cancer, according to results of a study published in August's Clinical Cancer Research.

Gaber Komar, MD, and colleagues used PET to measure blood flow and glucose consumption in 26 pancreatic cancer patients. The results showed that patients with benign pancreatic tumors had 48 percent decreased blood flow in the lesion compared with patients with normal pancreatic tissue. Those patients with malignant tumors had a decreased blood flow of 60 percent in the lesion.

The researchers said they were surprised to see such a clear correlation between tumor malignancy and blood flow glucose consumption in such a small sample size, and suggested the findings might help explain why some patients experience a lack of success with radiation and chemotherapy.

"The important new step in the future might be the integration of these findings in management of a single tumor and combination of this information with the appropriate therapeutic approach including early monitoring of tumor responsiveness," Komar said.

"A blood-flow metabolism mismatch by PET appears to be associated with cancer aggressiveness and treatment resistance. We've only recently recognized this pattern as a result of advantages in functional imaging methods," commented David Mankoff, MD, PhD, professor of radiology, medicine and bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.