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Routine use of positron-emission tomography/computed tomography for staging of primary colorectal cancer: Does it affect clinical management?

Gokhan Cipe1*, Nurhan Ergul2, Mustafa Hasbahceci1, Deniz Firat1, Suleyman Bozkurt1, Naim Memmi1, Oguzhan Karatepe1 and Mahmut Muslumanoglu1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, Department of General Surgery, Bezmialem Vakif University, Adnan Menderes Bulvari, Istanbul, Fatih 34090, Turkey

2 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Bezmialem Vakif University, Adnan Menderes Bulvari, Istanbul, Fatih 34090, Turkey

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2013, 11:49  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-49

Published: 27 February 2013



The use of positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) for the preoperative staging of patients with colon and rectal cancer has increased steadily over the last decade. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of PET/CT on the preoperative staging and clinical management of patients with colorectal cancer.


Between December 2010 and February 2012, 64 consecutive patients with colorectal cancer were evaluated with both PET/CT scans and conventional preoperative imaging studies. We prospectively recorded the medical reports of these patients. The PET/CT findings were compared with conventional imaging studies and the rate of over-staging or down-staging and changes in clinical management were evaluated. The correlation of the PET/CT with the conventional imaging was compared by a kappa agreement coefficient. Differences in the accuracy for N and T staging were assessed by χ2 and related-samples marginal homogeneity tests.


Thirty-nine (60.9%) patients had rectal cancer and 25 (39.1%) had colon cancer. Based on PET/CT, additional lesions were found in 6 (9.4%) of the patients: hilar and paratracheal lesions in 4 patients, hepatic in 1 and supraclavicular in 1 patient. In four of six patients, detailed imaging studies or biopsies revealed chronic inflammatory changes. Hepatic and supraclavicular involvement was confirmed in two patients. Therefore, the false positivity rate of PET/CT was 6.25%. Based on the additional PET/CT, 2 (3.2%) patients had a change in surgical management. A chemotherapy regimen was administered to the patient with a 1.5 cm hepatic metastasis near the right hepatic vein; for another patient with an identified supraclavicular lymph node metastasis, a simultaneous excision was performed.


Routine use of PET/CT for preoperative staging did not impact disease management for 96.8% of our patients. The results of our study conclude that PET/CT should not be routinely used for primary staging of colorectal cancer. More studies are required for identifying the subgroup of patients who might benefit from a PET/CT in their initial staging.

Colorectal cancer; Computed tomography; Positron emission tomography/computed tomography; Preoperative staging