, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 270-277
Date: 04 Jul 2007

Preoperative staging of colorectal cancer: CT vs. integrated FDG PET/CT

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Accurate preoperative staging is essential in determining the optimal therapeutic planning for individual patients. The computed tomography (CT) in the preoperative staging of colorectal cancer, even if controversial, may be useful for planning surgery and/or neoadjuvant therapy, particularly when local tumor extension into adjacent organs or distant metastases are detected. There have been significant changes in the CT technology with the advent of multi-detector row CT (MDCT) scanner. Advances in CT technology have raised interest in the potential role of CT for detection and staging of colorectal cancer. In recent studies, MDCT with MPR images has shown promising accuracy in the evaluation of local extent and nodal involvement of colorectal cancer. Combined PET/CT images have significant advantages over either alone because it provides both functional and anatomical data. Therefore, it is natural to expect that PET/CT would improve the accuracy of preoperative staging of colorectal cancer. The most significant additional information provided by PET/CT relates to the accurate detection of distant metastases. For the evaluation of patients with colorectal cancer, CT has relative advantages over PET/CT in regard to the depth of tumor invasion through the wall, extramural extension, and regional lymph node metastases. PET/CT should be performed on selected patients with suggestive but inconclusive metastatic lesions with CT. In addition, PET/CT with dedicated CT protocols, such as contrast-enhanced PET/CT and PET/CT colonography, may replace the diagnostic CT for the preoperative staging of colorectal cancer.