Should 18F-FDG PET/CT Be Routinely Performed in the Clinical Staging of Locally Advanced Gastric Adenocarcinoma?

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The aim of this study was to evaluate 18F-FDG PET/CT compared with conventional imaging techniques in the clinical management of patients with locally advanced gastric cancer (LAGC).


A prospective study between January 2010 and December 2011 in patients with suspected LAGC was conducted in our hospital. 18F-FDG PET/CT, contrast-enhanced CT (CECT), endoscopic ultrasound, and laparoscopy were performed in all cases. Standard whole-body 18F-FDG PET/CT images were obtained centered on the stomach at 1 and 2 hours after injection of 4.0 MBq/kg of 18F-FDG. Findings were confirmed by histopathology or by imaging follow-up in nonoperable patients.


Fifty consecutive patients with confirmed LAGC (20 women, 30 men) with a mean ± SD age of 65.7 ± 12.1 years were included. Using Lauren classification, 24 patients were intestinal subtype, and 26 were diffuse subtype. Thirty-five patients with locoregional lymph node involvement and 22 with distant metastases were confirmed as peritoneal metastases (n = 15), retroperitoneal (n = 2) or mediastinal lymph nodes (n = 1), and liver (n = 3) or bone metastases (n = 1). Patients with signet ring carcinoma showed significantly less 18F-FDG uptake (P = 0.001). SUVmax correlated with tumor grading (P < 0.05). Standard and delayed 18F-FDG PET/CT and CECT images identified LAGC in 24, 27, and 28 of 30 patients, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity for 18F-FDG PET/CT and CECT to detect metastases were 68% and 100% and 64% and 93%, respectively. Contrast-enhanced CT and 18F-FDG PET/CT diagnosed only 6 of the 15 patients with confirmed peritoneal metastases. The impact in therapeutic management of 18F-FDG PET/CT and CECT was 24% and 22%, respectively. Kaplan-Meier survival curves for the LGAC showed a significant correlation between SUVmax and overall survival using an SUVmax threshold of less than 3.96 (P = 0.04).


18F-FDG PET/CT should be recommended for staging of LAGC; however, 18F-FDG PET/CT and CECT cannot replace laparoscopy to rule out peritoneal metastases. Delayed 18F-FDG PET/CT images show an increase of 18F-FDG uptake in most cases, improving LAGC detection. The grade of 18F-FDG uptake represents a significant prognostic tool in this series.

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