The role of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in the management of thyroid cancer is discussed. It is important to ensure that patients are relaxed because uptake of FDG in tense or active muscles in the neck and larynx can be misinterpreted as metastases. The major role for PET is in patients where the stage of disease is uncertain, usually the result of discordant negative 131I scan and a positive serum thyroglobulin (Tg) values. PET identifies the source of Tg production in 50-80% of patients. PET scan can be negative in well differentiated cancers which retain the ability to trap iodine. This can result in a 'flip/flop', with negative PET, positive radio-iodine scan, or positive PET, negative radioiodine scan. PET is also valuable in identifying the source of calcitonin production in patients with medullary thyroid cancer. When focal uptake is seen in the thyroid of patients who are scanned for non thyroidal reasons, the likelihood of primary thyroid cancer is high. In contrast diffuse uptake of FDG in the thyroid is usually the result of auto-immune thyroid disorders.
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View details for PubMedID 11388568