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The Quarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular imaging 2010 February;54(1):16-23

Copyright © 2010 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Imaging of NETs with PET radiopharmaceuticals

Ambrosini V. 1, Tomassetti P. 2, Franchi R. 1, Fanti S. 1

1 Department of Nuclear Medicine, S. Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy; 2 Department of Internal Medicine, S. Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy


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Neuroendocrine tumours (NET) diagnosis has represented a major challenge in the past decades. The introduction of somatostatin receptor scintigraphy in the diagnostic work-up led to a significant improvement of accuracy. However with the advent of positron emission tomography (PET) that presents a higher spatial resolution as compared to the gamma camera and an array of different radiotracers, it is now possible to image NET with an even higher accuracy. In fact, PET imaging of NET is a rapidly evolving field closely connected to the development of novel beta-emitting radiopharmaceuticals. NET can be easily visualized on PET scans using an array of both metabolic and receptor-based tracers. [18F]DOPA and [68Ga]DOTA-peptides (DOTA-TOC, DOTA-NOC, DOTA-TATE) are very promising to image well differentiated NET and were reported to be superior to other imaging modalities (computed tomography [CT], somatostatin receptor scintigraphy). On the contrary, the role of [18F]FDG is limited in well differentiated NET, due to their low glucose metabolism and growth rate, while it still can provide valuable information in less differentiated tumours. On-going studies are investigating the potential role of new imaging agents (bombesin, GLP-1, CCK) that specifically bind to receptors expressed on NET cells.

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