, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 59-64

Positron Emission Tomography Affects Surgical Management in Recurrent Colorectal Cancer Patients

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Background: We determined the effect of positron emission tomography (PET) on surgical decision-making in patients with metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer.

Methods: A total of 114 patients with advanced colorectal cancer were imaged with computed tomography (CT) and PET scans. The PET and CT scans were independently interpreted before surgery and recorded.

Results: Forty-two of the 114 patients had resectable disease on the basis of CT. PET altered therapy in 17 (40%) of these 42 patients on the basis of the following results: extrahepatic disease (n = 9), bilobar involvement (n = 3), thoracic involvement (n = 5), retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy (n = 2), bone involvement (n = 1), and supraclavicular disease (n = 1). In 25 patients with liver metastases only, PET found additional disease in 18 (72%), extrahepatic disease in 11, chest disease in 13, retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy in 4, and bone disease in 3. In five patients, both scans underestimated small-volume peritoneal metastases discovered at laparotomy.

Conclusions: PET altered therapy in 40% of patients. In patients with isolated liver involvement, 72% had more extensive disease that precluded surgical resection. PET scans should be used in the management of patients with recurrent colorectal cancer who are being considered for potentially curative surgery.