Table of Contents
International Journal of Molecular Imaging
Volume 2012, Article ID 324686, 9 pages
Review Article

PET Imaging in Recurrent Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma

1Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, 00168 Rome, Italy
2Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET-CT Centre, Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, Street Ospedale 12, 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland

Received 23 April 2012; Accepted 21 May 2012

Academic Editor: Francesco S. Celi

Copyright © 2012 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.


Purpose. To perform an overview about the role of positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/computed tomography (PET/CT) using different radiopharmaceuticals in recurrent medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) based on biochemical findings (increased tumor marker levels after primary surgery). Methods. A comprehensive literature search of studies published in PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and Embase databases through February 2012 regarding PET or PET/CT in patients with recurrent MTC was performed. Results. Twenty-nine studies comprising 714 patients with suspected recurrent MTC were retrieved. Twenty-seven articles evaluated the role of fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET or PET/CT in recurrent MTC with conflicting results. Diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET and PET/CT increased in MTC patients with higher calcitonin and carcinoembryonic antigen values, suggesting that these imaging methods could be very useful in patients with more advanced and aggressive disease. Eight articles evaluated the role of fluorine-18-dihydroxyphenylalanine (FDOPA) PET or PET/CT in recurrent MTC reporting promising results. Overall, FDOPA seems to be superior but complementary compared to FDG in detecting recurrent MTC. Few studies evaluating other PET tracers are also discussed. Conclusions. PET radiopharmaceuticals reflect different metabolic pathways in MTC. FDOPA seems to be the most useful PET tracer in detecting recurrent MTC based on rising levels of tumor markers. FDG may complement FDOPA in patients with more aggressive MTC.