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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2013, Article ID 856189, 6 pages
Review Article

The Role of Fluorine-18-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography in Aggressive Histological Subtypes of Thyroid Cancer: An Overview

1Department of Nuclear Medicine and Thyroid Centre, Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, Via Ospedale 12, 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland
2Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Largo Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy
3School of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Largo Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy

Received 9 December 2012; Revised 11 March 2013; Accepted 24 March 2013

Academic Editor: Richard Wahl

Copyright © 2013 Giorgio Treglia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aggressive histological subtypes of thyroid cancer are rare and have a poor prognosis. The most important aggressive subtypes of thyroid cancer are Hürthle cell carcinoma (HCTC) and anaplastic and poorly differentiated carcinoma (ATC and PDTC). The American Thyroid Association recently published guidelines for the management of patients with ATC, but no specific guidelines have been done about HCTC. We performed an overview of the literature about the role of Fluorine-18-Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography or positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET or PET/CT) in aggressive histological subtypes of thyroid cancer. Only few original studies about the role of FDG-PET or PET/CT in HCTC, PDTC, and ATC have been published in the literature. FDG-PET or PET/CT seems to be useful in staging or followup of invasive and metastatic HCTC. FDG-PET or PET/CT should be used in patients with ATC in initial staging and in the followup after surgery to evaluate metastatic disease. Some authors suggest the use of FDG-PET/CT in staging of PDTC, but more studies are needed to define the diagnostic use of FDG-PET/CT in this setting. Limited experience suggests the usefulness of FDG-PET or PET/CT in patients with more aggressive histological subtypes of DTC. However, DTC presenting as radioiodine refractory and FDG-PET positive should be considered aggressive tumours with poor prognosis.