Using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning may improve
the treatment of patients with cancer of the esophagus, potentially
resulting in lower morbidity, according to surgeons at the University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
James Luketich, md, assistant professor of surgery in the division
of cardiothoracic surgery, codirector of the University of Pittsburgh
Cancer Institute's Lung Cancer Center, and director of the thoracic
oncology program, is the principal investigator of this preliminary
study of the role of PET scanning in the treatment of esophageal
cancer. The study's findings were presented on October 26, 1996,
at the meeting of the Institute for Clinical PET in Orlando, Florida.
"The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness
of PET in determining whether or not a patient's esophageal cancer
has spread to other parts of the body. Such knowledge is important
in determining the type of treatment the patient receives,"
Dr. Luketich said. "For instance, if we find that cancer
has spread to the lymph nodes and to other tissue, surgery might
not be a good option. However, if it is found that cancer has
not spread, then perhaps surgery and chemotherapy would be the
"We studied 21 patients and the PET scan showed 10 tumors
not previously seen by X-rays or CT scans that had spread to the
lymph nodes and seven other tumors that had spread to other areas
of the body," Dr. Luketich said. "Overall, the effectiveness
of PET in detecting cancer that has spread was 80%."
"Although this study included only a limited number of patients,
PET scanning has already proven to be a valuable tool in the treatment
of esophageal cancer patients," Dr. Luketich said.