Application of PET/CT to Thyroid Cancers

The thyroid is a unique organ in that it concentrates iodine. Usually thyroid cancer is first diagnosed using radioactive iodine and traditional nuclear medicine techniques. Once diagnosed, treatment usually consists of surgery and/or a therapeutic dose of radioactive iodine.

Sometimes the cells in the thyroid cancer can change enough so that they no longer concentrate iodine. It is at this stage that PET/CT plays an important role. Because PET/CT makes images of energy consumption, it can find the tumors that no longer concentrate iodine. This can help guide your doctor in developing a treatment plan for you.

Thyroid Cancer Case

Patient: 46yo male history of thyroid cancer. He had elevated thyroglobulins. No cancer was found with an iodine scan or with CT-alone. A PET/CT scan was ordered to re-stage the patient.

Results: PET/CT revealed a solitary focal area in the right neck. This area was removed surgically and found to be non iodine avid thyroid cancer.

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