18F-FDG PET/CT in the evaluation of cancer cervix: Where do we stand today?

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The incidence of gynecological malignancies is on the rise partly because of the availability of screening programmes, awareness, higher technological advancements, and availability of better medical care. Early diagnosis of any malignancy leads to prompt treatment. Use of 18Fluorine-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT in the treatment and follow-up of patients with Ca cervix considerably improves patient management. The primary diagnosis of Ca cervix is made either by biopsy of a visible tumor on the cervix or by a cone biopsy of a nonvisible malignant cervical focus. The staging procedure is purely clinical (i.e. gynecologic examination under general anesthesia) according to the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics classification. Earlier, with the nonavailability of sophisticated medical equipment and imaging specialists, oncologists relied heavily on clinical examination. However, anatomical and functional imaging has been proven to be considerably superior in understanding parametrial involvement and nodal/distant metastases in the cancer cervix than clinical examination alone. Data are evolving on the usage of 18F-FDG PET/CT in initial staging, treatment planning, and monitoring therapy response for gynecological malignancies. Prognostic information derived from the primary lesion such as the maximum standardized uptake value, metabolic tumor volume, and extent of para-aortic nodal metastatic disease plays a critical role in tailoring therapy on the basis of patient tumor-specific factors rather than on International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics stage alone. Thus, 18F-FDG PET/CT needs to be listed not only under the panel of pretherapy investigations for Ca cervix but also for recurrence and therapy response assessments. It allows a more confident approach to patient management at initial staging, especially in terms of the decision to choose surgical versus palliation measures.

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