January 6, 2009 - SPECT/CT should be used as a routine procedure in differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) patients at the first radioiodine treatment, concluded a researcher in a study from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, published in the January issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
In the study, researchers wanted to determine the diagnostic value of molecular imaging in nodal staging of patients with thyroid cancer. For the first time, researchers were able to accurately distinguish between cancerous cells in regional lymph nodes and normal residual thyroid tissue directly after surgery. Researchers used SPECT/CT to determine and locate the spread of cancer cells to nearby lymph nodes.
In the study, 57 patients received radioiodine therapy before scanning the patients under a SPECT/CT. The SPECT images revealed both the malignant cell activity and the exact anatomical location.
“We were able to determine tumor spread much earlier than before,” using SPECT-CT imaging, said co-author of the article, Daniela Schmidt, M.D. The exclusion of metastasis in regional lymph nodes plays a major role in treating the disease since all patients with lymph node metastases are considered to be at high risk for recurrence, said the researchers.
The researchers also reported that this information led to a revision of the original diagnosis in 35 percent of the study participants. The images reclassified as benign six of 11 lesions that had been considered lymph node metastases and 11 of 15 lesions considered to be indeterminate.
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