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Does positron emission tomography using 18-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose improve clinical staging of testicular cancer?--Results of a study in 50 patients.

Urology 1999 November
OBJECTIVES: To compare positron emission tomography (PET) using 18-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) with conventional clinical staging in unselected patients with germ cell cancer.

METHODS: Fifty patients underwent PET scans of the abdomen (n = 50) and chest (n = 41 ) after the initial diagnosis. PET images were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively using standardized uptake values (SUVs). The results were compared with computed tomography (CT) results and tumor markers (human chorionic gonadotropin, alpha-fetoprotein, and lactate dehydrogenase). Retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in 12 patients and clinical staging, including follow-up data in all patients, were taken as a reference standard.

RESULTS: PET detected metastases in 13 (87%) of 15 patients and excluded metastases in 33 (94%) of 35 patients. A sensitivity of 73% and a specificity of 94% were obtained using CT. The respective values for tumor marker determination were 67% and 100%. Retroperitoneal metastases were detected in 2 patients by PET only and in 1 patient by CT only. In the latter patient, surgery of a residual mass after chemotherapy revealed a well-differentiated teratoma. False-negative findings with PET and CT occurred in 2 patients with retroperitoneal metastases approximately 10 mm in size. False-positive findings were due to sarcoidosis or to muscular activity of the neck. Quantitative FDG uptake was very heterogeneous, with an SUV ranging from 1.8 to 17.3.

CONCLUSIONS: FDG PET has the potential to improve clinical staging of testicular cancer. However, PET, as well as CT, is limited in the detection of small retroperitoneal lymph node metastases.

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