Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Incidental PET findings may reveal undetected cancer


Incidental abnormalities detected in cancer patients by radiologists using positron emission tomography (PET) may signal new, unrelated malignancies, according to a study appearing in the February issue of the journal Radiology.

"The unexpected abnormalities we followed up on were significant," said the study’s lead author, Harry Agress Jr., M.D., who is director of nuclear medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center’s PET center. "Approximately 71 percent of the lesions that were confirmed with biopsy were either malignant or premalignant. Typically, these cancers were not symptomatic and were unrelated to the primary cancer for which the scan was performed."

The researchers evaluated 1,750 PET scans of known or suspected cancers to determine the importance and malignant potential of additional, unexpected abnormal findings encountered during routine PET evaluation. They identified 58 abnormalities in 53 patients. Most abnormalities were found in the colon, while others were located in the breast, fallopian tube, uterus, gallbladder, larynx, ovary, bone and thyroid.

Forty-five abnormalities were further evaluated with additional computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging and/or mammography, and 42 were subsequently biopsied. Thirty (71 percent) of the biopsied abnormalities were either malignant or premalignant tumors that were unrelated to the primary tumor already under study.

Follow-up is crucial when the PET evaluation reveals incidental findings. "If we had not pursued the abnormalities disclosed by PET, these patients would only have been treated for their known cancer while another malignancy remained undiagnosed." Dr. Agress said. "Patients reported no symptoms in 92 percent of the incidental findings that we confirmed, and the other 8 percent were symptomatic only in retrospect or had been unsuccessfully worked up for symptoms prior to the PET scan."

For instance, in one patient with a lung nodule that was proven benign, an incidental PET abnormality was noted in the breast. In a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound with specific attention to the area of PET abnormality, a subtle cancer was identified and proven by biopsy. "If the patient had not received follow-up," Dr. Agress said, "her cancer could have gone undetected until at some time it may have become larger or possibly spread."

Nine abnormalities were benign and three findings were false positives. Of the nine benign lesions, three were considered clinically important due to the potential for local destruction, systemic effects or asymptomatic infection, subsequently requiring surgery or medical therapy.

PET, which identifies areas of abnormal chemical and metabolic action, is rapidly gaining popularity for tumor evaluation and management. According to Dr. Agress, unexpected abnormalities are found with PET because the scans include the entire body, and because PET can frequently identify metabolically active lesions that may not be easily identified as anatomic abnormalities on CT. Abnormal findings on a PET scan can arise from cancer, inflammation or infection. He cautions that PET identifies certain cancers but does not detect all tumors.

Radiology is a monthly scientific journal devoted to clinical radiology and allied sciences. The journal is edited by Anthony V. Proto, M.D., School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Radiology is owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America Inc. (

The Radiological Society of North America is an association of more than 35,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists and related scientists committed to promoting excellence in radiology through education and by fostering research, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (

"Detection of Clinically Unexpected Malignant and Premalignant Tumors with Whole-Body FDG PET: Histopathologic Comparison." Benjamin Z. Cooper, M.D., collaborated with Dr. Agress on this study.

Maureen Morley | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>