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Diagnostic value of surveillance 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT for detecting recurrent esophageal carcinoma after curative treatment.

PURPOSE: Esophageal carcinoma recurs within two years in approximately half of patients who receive curative treatment and is associated with poor survival. While 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) is a reliable method of detecting recurrent esophageal carcinoma, in most previous studies FDG PET/CT scans were performed when recurrence was suspected. The aim of this study was to evaluate FDG PET/CT as a surveillance modality to detect recurrence of esophageal carcinoma after curative treatment where clinical indications of recurrent disease are absent.

METHODS: A total of 782 consecutive FDG PET/CT studies from 375 patients with esophageal carcinoma after definitive treatment were reviewed. Abnormal lesions suggestive of recurrence on PET/CT scans were then evaluated. Recurrence was determined by pathologic confirmation or other clinical evidence within two months of the scan. If no clinical evidence for recurrence was found at least 6 months after the scan, the case was considered a true negative for recurrence.

RESULTS: The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of PET/CT for detecting recurrent esophageal carcinomas were 100% (64/64) and 94.0% (675/718), respectively. There were no significant differences in the diagnostic performance of PET/CT for detecting recurrence according to initial stage or time between PET/CT and curative treatments. Unexpected second primary cancers were detected by FDG PET/CT in seven patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Surveillance FDG PET/CT is a useful imaging tool for detection of early recurrence or clinically unsuspected early second primary cancer in patients with curatively treated esophageal carcinoma but without clinical suspicion of recurrence.

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