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Comprehensive Screenings in Healthy Can Find Cancers

Screening with positron emission tomography, other tests found primary cancers in study group, many of them stage I

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Whole-body cancer screenings using a battery of modalities, including positron emission tomography (PET), have the ability to detect a range of early-stage cancers, according to research published online Mar. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sadahiko Nishizawa, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hamamatsu Medical Photonics Foundation in Shizuoka, Japan, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,197 healthy adults, most of whom underwent three annual cancer screenings between 2003 and 2006 that included whole-body PET with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), computed tomography and MRI.

By the end of 2006, the researchers report that 22 primary cancers had been pathologically confirmed in the patients, and of these, 19 had been found in the screening via imaging or a prostate specific antigen test. Three other participants were diagnosed with cancers between screenings after developing symptoms. Twelve of the 18 found in the first screening were at stage I, the authors note.

"Whole-body cancer screening including FDG-PET is expensive, of limited availability, and not yet suitable for general use, but may be valuable measures in selected situations. Therefore, it is still important to clarify its value including the issues of cost-effectiveness and the impact on cancer mortality," Nishizawa and colleagues conclude. "While FDG-PET alone was insufficient, this study supports the possible utility of whole-body cancer screening including FDG-PET. "

Several co-authors disclosed employment or other financial relationships with Hamamatsu Photonics KK; the Hamamatsu Medical Photonics Foundation supported the study.

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