The objective of the study was to compare F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose position emission tomography (FDG-PET) with diagnostic whole body scanning (DxWBS) and post-ablation radioiodine whole body scanning (TxWBS) and to assess its prognostic value in newly diagnosed differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) patients, hypothesizing that FDG-PET is more likely to disclose locoregional and distant metastases.
Patients and methods
DxWBS and FDG-PET scanning were performed in 26 newly diagnosed DTC patients who underwent thyroidectomy and TxWBS in 24 cases who had radioactive iodine ablation. The results of the FDG-PET scans were correlated with the stage of the disease and the long-term outcome of DTC.
Overall, 18 FDG-PET scans (69.2%) were positive showing a total of 40 foci while 8 scans (30.8%) were negative. The corresponding 26 DxWBS were all positive and showed a total of 47 foci. DxWBS and TxWBS showed similar foci in the 24 patients who had ablation therapy. In contrast to the FDG-PET scans that showed uptake of 26 foci (65%) outside the thyroid bed, 45 foci (95.7%) on DxWBS were in the thyroid bed while 2 foci (4.3%) were in cervical lymph nodes and no focus was seen outside the neck area (P=0.000). There was a clear correlation between the FDG-PET results, the stage of the disease and long-term outcome; seven of the eight negative FDG-PET scans were in stage 1, while all patients with disease higher than stage 1 (six patients) had positive scans. Over a median of 30 months (10–48), seven out of eight patients (87.5%) with negative FDG-PET scans were in remission compared with only eight patients (44.4%) with positive FDG-PET (P=0.04).
In the postoperative evaluation of DTC, compared with DxWBS and TxWBS, FDG-PET scans are more likely to reveal uptake outside the thyroid bed and to correlate with the stage of the disease and long-term outcome.