Role of PET/PET–CT in the management of sarcomas

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Positron emission tomography (PET) is a functional diagnostic imaging technique that provides very different information from that obtainable with other imaging modalities. The most widely used radiotracer is F-18 fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG), which is an analog of glucose. The FDG uptake in cells is directly proportional to glucose metabolism, which is increased many times in malignant cells. FDG-PET is now the standard of care in initial staging, monitoring the response to therapy and management of various cancers (e.g., breast cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma). However, the paucity of anatomical landmarks on PET images makes a consistent hardware fusion to anatomical cross-sectional data extremely useful. The introduction of combined PET–computer tomography (CT) scanners, which provide not only functional, but also structural information leading to a detection of subcentimeter lesions, made this technique useful in the early detection of the disease process and decreasing false-positive lesions. The aim of this article is to review the clinical applications (i.e., diagnosis, staging, evaluation of treatment response and restaging) using PET in patients with bone and soft-tissue sarcoma.

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