Role of PET/CT in the clinical management of locally advanced pancreatic cancer

Maria Picchio, Elisabetta Giovannini, Paolo Passoni, Elena Busnardo, Claudio Landoni, Giampiero Giovacchini, Valentino Bettinardi, Cinzia Crivellaro, Luigi Gianolli, Nadia Di Muzio, Cristina Messa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim. To evaluate the role of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT in: a) the selection of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer for helical tomotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy (HTT-ChT); b) monitoring HTT-ChT treatment efficacy in comparison with contrast-enhanced CT (c.e.CT). Methods. Forty-two consecutive patients with unresectable locally advanced pancreatic cancer referred for HTT-ChT were enrolled in the study. All patients were pretreated with induction ChT. Before the beginning of HTT-ChT treatment patients underwent diagnostic c.e.CT (CT0) and FDG PET/CT (PET/CT0) for staging. After staging, patients received HTT-ChT. Three months after the end of HTT-ChT a control c.e.CT (CT1) was done. FDG PET/CT (PET/CT1) was repeated only in patients with positive PET/CT0. PET/CT1 and CT1 were compared with baseline imaging results to assess treatment efficacy. Results. In 31/42 cases (74%) PET/CT0 documented pathological uptake in pancreatic lesions, while in the remaining 11/42 cases it showed no uptake. In 7/42 (17%) patients, PET/CT0 also detected distant metastases, prompting a change in the therapeutic approach. Compared to PET/CT0, PET/CT1 (n = 18) documented 3 complete metabolic responses, 9 partial metabolic responses, 2 instances of stable metabolic disease, and 4 instances of progressive metabolic disease. In the same group of 18 patients, CT1 showed 0 complete responses, 3 partial responses, 8 instances of stable disease, and 7 instances of progressive disease compared to CT0. Concordance between PET/CT and CT response was seen in 33% of cases. In 50% of cases, PET/CT1 documented a response to therapy that was not evident on CT. Conclusions. PET/CT influenced the treatment strategy by detecting distant metastases not documented by CT, thus accurately selecting patients for HTT-ChT after induction ChT. In monitoring treatment efficacy, PET/CT can detect a metabolic response to treatment not identified by CT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-651
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Helical tomotherapy
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Patient management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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