Nuclear medicine imaging of neuroendocrine tumours

E. Bombardieri, M. Maccauro, E. De Deckere, G. Savelli, A. Chiti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Different tracers have been proposed in nuclear medicine to visualize neuroendocrine tumours; the majority are based on specific uptake mechanisms while some are aspecific. Among the most important gamma-emitting tracers, radiolabelled metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I or 131I-MIBG) and 111In-pentetreotide should be mentioned. In particular, good results can be obtained with 111In-pentetreotide scanning, which visualizes more than 70% of all neuroendocrine tumours and in some indications, as in gastro-entero-pancreatic (GEP) tumours, has a diagnostic sensitivity superior to that of conventional radiological imaging. Radiolabelled monoclonal antibodies have at present only a storical value, while a series of new peptides represent interesting subjects in areas currently being regarded. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a successful modality to detect cancer and recent years, has demonstrated a great diagnostic value in a large series of tumour types. 18F-deoxy-glucose (FDG)-PET has also been used to diagnose tumours of neuroendocrine origin. Even if 18F-FDG has been successfully and widely employed in oncology, it has not demostrated a significant uptake in well differentiated neuroendocrine tissues. On the contrary, other positron emitter tracers seem to be more promising. A serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) labelled with 11C has shown an increased uptake in carcinoids. This uptake seems to be selective and some clinical evidence has demonstrated that it allows the detection of more lesions with PET than with CT or octreotide scintigraphy. Another radiopharmaceutical in development for PET is 11C L-DOPA, which seems to be useful in visualizing endocrine pancreatic tumours. This Review summarizes the potential of several nuclear medicine techniques in the diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumours and stresses the renewed role of nuclear medicine in the management of this disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue numberSUPPLE. 2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Neuroendocrine tumours
  • Nuclear medicine imaging
  • Peptide imaging
  • Somastostatin scintigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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    Bombardieri, E., Maccauro, M., De Deckere, E., Savelli, G., & Chiti, A. (2001). Nuclear medicine imaging of neuroendocrine tumours. Annals of Oncology, 12(SUPPLE. 2).