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Gastric carcinoma: imaging diagnosis, staging and assessment of treatment response.

Gastric carcinoma (GC) is one of the most common causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Surgical resection is the only cure available and is dependent on the GC stage at presentation, which incorporates depth of tumor invasion, extent of lymph node and distant metastases. Accurate preoperative staging is therefore essential for optimal surgical management with consideration of preoperative and/or postoperative chemotherapy. Multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) with its ability to assess tumor depth, nodal disease and metastases is the preferred technique for staging GC. Endoscopic ultrasonography is more accurate for assessing the depth of wall invasion in early cancer, but is limited in the assessment of advanced local or stenotic cancer and detection of distant metastases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although useful for staging, is not proven to be effective. Positron emission tomography (PET) is most useful for detecting and characterizing distant metastases. Both MDCT and PET are useful for assessment of treatment response following preoperative chemotherapy and for detection of recurrence after surgical resection. This review article discusses the usefulness of imaging modalities for detecting, staging and assessing treatment response for GC and the potential role of newer applications including CT volumetry, virtual gastroscopy and perfusion CT in the management of GC.

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