(RxWiki News) Staging cancer involves finding out how much cancer is in the body and where it's located. The stage of a person's cancer helps physicians plan the best way to treat it. The information is also used to forecast the patient's outlook.
Physicians using positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) are able to fine tune initial staging information about esophageal cancer that can impact how the disease is managed, resulting in patients living longer.
"Find out how your cancer will be staged."
A study published in the June, 2012 issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine was led by Thomas Barber, of the Centre for Cancer Imaging, at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
"The superior accuracy of PET/CT compared to conventional staging investigations such as CT allows clinicians to more appropriately choose and more appropriately plan patient therapy," said Barber, who was the study's lead author.
Researchers followed 139 people who had recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer between July 2002 and June 2005.
Each of the study participants had conventional staging procedures, using CT and/or endoscopic ultrasound, followed by PET/CT imaging.
Researchers validated any variances between the staging information produced by both methods. They also measured the impact of the different management plans by comparing pre- and post-PET/CT plans. Investigators recorded how many patients were still alive after five years (five-year survival rate).
PET/CT imaging changed the stage group for 59 patients and the management plans for 47 individuals.
Barber noted, "Our data also show that when PET/CT changes management, it does so correctly in almost all cases."
Five-year survival rates among those who underwent PET/CT imaging were significantly higher - 38 percent - for patients with stage IIB-III esophageal cancer. Conventional staging resulted in a 9-34 percent five-year survival rate for people with stage IIB disease and 6-16 percent for those with stage III disease.
Barber concluded, "Our results demonstrate that this technique should be incorporated into routine clinical practice."
Funding information was not provided. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.