Positron emission tomography (PET) and other nuclear medicine modalities in staging gastrointestinal cancer

Emilio Bombardieri, Gianluca Aliberti, Celine De Graaf, Ernest Pauwels, Flavio Crippa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers account for the second highest number of new tumor cases and deaths per year in the United States and Western Europe. The most frequently involved sites are, in descending order, the colorectum, stomach, pancreas, liver, bile duct, and esophagus. The most common tumor type is adenocarcinoma. Among the epithelial cancers, great attention has recently been given to the tumors of neuroendocrine origin. These concepts are relevant because nuclear medicine imaging is based on visualization by means of a particular uptake of radiolabelled tracers in cancer cells that concentrate the radioactive signal. This signal is detected and reconstructed in planar or tomographic images. Different radiopharmaceuticals have been proposed for diagnostic application in oncology (such as radiolabelled monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), receptor tracers, and positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals), and they are currently used as tracers for tumor detection with different modalities and techniques. Most of these techniques demonstrate their clinical usefulness in the diagnosis of GI cancer. This work is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all the extensive experience and possibilities of nuclear medicine for the diagnosis of GI tumors; rather, it aims to summarize the current status of the most important approaches and their main indications in staging GI cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Surgical Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Gastrointestinal neoplasms
  • Positron emission tomography (PET), emission-computed
  • Radionuclide imaging
  • Receptors, somatostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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