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PET Imaging Affects Management Similarly Among Cancers

Positron emission tomography has similar impact on intended management regardless of cancer type

THURSDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging affects the intended management of cancer patients similarly regardless of cancer type, researchers report in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Bruce E. Hillner, M.D., from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues analyzed data from physician questionnaires on the intended management of 34,536 patients with 18 types of known cancers before and after 40,863 PET scans. Of these, 14,365 scans were to initially stage newly diagnosed cancer, 14,584 were to restage cancers after completing a course of treatment, and 11,914 were to evaluate a suspected cancer recurrence.

The researchers found that the intended management changed in 38 percent of cases, ranging from 31.4 percent for non-melanoma skin cancer to 48.7 percent for myeloma, when the intended management was categorized as treatment or non-treatment. PET had a consistently greater impact on intended management only for multiple myeloma. A change from non-treatment to treatment was much more likely than the reverse for all cancer types (30 versus 8 percent), the authors report. When the intended management before PET was treatment, the frequencies of changes in treatment from curative to palliative or vice versa or a major change in the modality of treatment were similar among cancer types, they note.

The study results "show the impact of PET to be strikingly consistent for a wide range of cancers," Hillner and colleagues conclude. "Accordingly, the use of PET in management for patients with known cancer should not be restricted by cancer type or testing indication."

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