, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 868-873
Date: 28 Jan 2009

The Early Use of PET-CT Alters the Management of Patients with Esophageal Cancer

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The routine use of positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) in the staging of patients with esophageal carcinoma remains contentious, with conflicting reports of its benefit. In our unit, PET-CT has been used routinely in the staging of all patients considered for radical therapy (surgery or chemoradiotherapy). Our aim was to determine the frequency with which PET-CT influenced decision making in the management of patients with carcinoma of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction.


CT, PET-CT, and outcome information were collected on 38 patients considered for radical therapy. Patient proformas, with and without PET-CT findings, were constructed and each independently reviewed in a randomized and blinded fashion by five multidisciplinary team members (three surgeons, two oncologists) and a treatment strategy determined.


PET-CT changed the staging for ten patients (26%). This translated into a change in management decision for seven patients (18%). The concordance between individual management plans and treatment intent was 79% for CT (150 of 190 decisions) and it was 92% for PET-CT (175 of 190 decisions). Full concordance between multidisciplinary team members was 66% with CT staging and 74% with the addition of PET-CT.


The use of PET-CT early in the staging algorithm for esophageal carcinoma altered the staging for a quarter of patients and the management for a fifth of patients, supporting its inclusion early in the staging algorithm.