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PET Scans Could Boost Lung Cancer Diagnosis

In studies, the technology beat CT in spotting tumors early

TUESDAY, Nov. 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The use of PET imaging may improve the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, say Canadian researchers who reviewed several recent studies.

Tumor imaging is frequently used to diagnosis lung cancer and to make treatment decisions. Imaging technologies such as MRI and CT detect anatomical changes, while PET is based on biochemical processes that may alert doctors to the presence of disease before any anatomical changes occur, the researchers noted.

In this review, a team led by Dr. Yee Ung of the Odette Cancer Center in Toronto concluded that PET can accurately distinguish between benign and malignant tumors as small as one centimeter. In addition, the available data suggests that PET can accurately differentiate between limited and extensive disease and appears to be better than CT for making treatment decisions for non-small-cell lung cancer.

"Further research is needed to determine not only if PET should be integrated into the standard staging and diagnostic processes of lung cancer but also how PET would be incorporated into the staging algorithm," Ung and colleagues wrote.

The review appears online Nov. 27 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Giuseppe Giaccone of the U.S. National Cancer Institute wrote that PET imaging "is being increasingly used in lung cancer and has acquired a relevant role in staging patients, assessing treatment strategies, and monitoring treatment effects. Although (PET) has not replaced more accurate and invasive procedures, improvements in the integration of (PET) with other imaging modalities are promising and likely to affect the management of patients with lung cancer in the future."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Nov.27, 2007
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