The group assessed the value of positron emission tomography (PET) compared with computed tomography (CT) in the initial staging of esophageal cancer.
They reported their findings in the September issue of the Archives of Surgery.
Patients with newly diagnosed esophageal cancers between 1996 and 2001 at a tertiary care veterans' hospital were included in the trial.
All 24 individuals had undergone both CT and PET scanning within 4 weeks.
Only patients who underwent pathological (n = 16) or radiographic (n = 8) follow-up were included.
| CT scan was a sensitive indicator of distant metastases, whereas PET was more specific.
| Archives of Surgery |
The sensitivity, specificity, and negative and positive predictive values of CT and PET were determined.
For staging regional lymph node involvement, CT and PET scans showed no statistically significant difference in sensitivity (57% and 71%, respectively) and specificity (71% and 86%, respectively).
Furthermore, for detection of metastatic disease, CT and PET showed no significant difference in sensitivity (83% and 67%, respectively) and specificity (75% and 92%, respectively).
In addition, there was no significant difference in clinical decision making when the results of both tests were discordant.
Dr Sherry M. Wren, of the Palo Alto Veterans Health Care System, Palo Alto, California, said on behalf of the group, "There was no significant difference between the 2 imaging modalities in the initial staging of esophageal cancer.
"The CT scan was a sensitive indicator of distant metastases, whereas PET was more specific."
Dr Wren concluded, "It is unclear what additional role PET scanning should have in the initial screening of patients."