2013 Volume 230 Issue 3 Pages 155-169
Positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG), a glucose analog, is widely used throughout the world as an indispensable imaging modality for the management of cancer treatment. This article reviews the pioneering achievements of PET in oncology with a focus on the development of PET that occurred from 1980 through the early-1990s. 18F-FDG was first applied for imaging of animal tumors in 1980 and for brain tumor imaging clinically in 1982. 18F-FDG enabled to visualize liver metastasis as clear positive image that could not be obtained by conventional nuclear imaging. Subsequently, 18F-FDG was used for imaging various cancers, such as lung, pancreas, colorectal and hepatoma. 11C-L-methionine (11C-MET) that reflects amino acid transport of cancers has an advantage that its uptake is lower in the brain and inflammatory tissue compared to 18F-FDG, and was first applied for imaging lung cancer and brain tumor. 18F-FDG and 11C-MET were proved to be sensitive tracers that can be used to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of cancer treatment. The diagnostic accuracy of PET, which is critical in clinical practice, was evaluated for the differential diagnosis of malignant and benign lung nodules using 18F-FDG or 11C-MET. In addition to 18F-FDG and 11C-MET, many radiopharmaceuticals were developed, such as 18F-labled thymidine analogs for evaluating proliferative activity, 18F-fluoromisonidazole for imaging of hypoxia, and 18F-fluorodeoxygalactose for evaluating liver-specific galactose metabolism and for imaging of hepatoma that retains galactose metabolic activity. These early efforts and achievements have greatly contributed to the development and clinical application of 18F-FDG PET in oncology.