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CT and PET in stomach cancer: preoperative staging and monitoring of response to therapy.

Stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality worldwide. Complete resection of a gastric tumor and adjacent lymph nodes represents the only potentially curative intervention. Computed tomography (CT) has remained the modality of choice for the preoperative staging of gastric cancer and for follow-up. A recently developed advanced CT technique that makes use of thin sections, optimal contrast material enhancement, and multiplanar reformation allows more accurate staging. However, CT may be limited in the identification of nonenlarged lymph node metastasis, peritoneal dissemination, and small hematogenous metastasis. Positron emission tomography (PET) with 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) has been recognized as a useful diagnostic technique in clinical oncology. FDG PET allows scanning of a larger volume than is possible with CT. Although FDG PET is not an appropriate first-line diagnostic procedure in the detection of stomach cancer and is not helpful in tumor staging, it may play a valuable role in the detection of distant metastases, such as those of the liver, lungs, adrenal glands, ovaries, and skeleton. FDG PET may also be helpful in the follow-up of patients undergoing chemotherapy, as it allows the identification of early response to treatment. Further studies are needed to determine the efficacy of FDG PET in the detection of local nodal metastases and peritoneal dissemination. Nevertheless, the combined use of CT and PET can be helpful in the preoperative staging of stomach cancer and in the therapeutic monitoring of affected patients.

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