Diagnosis of Lymph Node Metastases

PET offers particular advantages in evaluating lymph nodes. When CT is applied the size of the lymph nodes is a determining factor, although even lymph nodes that are normal in size can be tumor involved, just as lymph nodes can be non-specifically enlarged. In detection of breast cancer and melanoma and in the mediastinal staging of lung cancer, FDG-PET is clearly superior to conventional imaging modalities. In principle, PET permits the recognition of positive lymph nodes regardless of size, but has limited sensitivity in detecting microscopically small tumors. Spatial resolution is an important factor, as existing PET scanners do not have sufficiently high resolution to enable detection of micrometastases. The further development of PET scanners and new imaging processes should, however, improve the spatial resolution in the future.

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