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A Guide to Clinical PET in Oncology: Improving Clinical Management of Cancer Patients

Positron emission tomography (PET) has an approximately 50 year-history. It was developed as a tool for medical science to quantitatively measure metabolic rates of bio-substances in vivo and in particular the number of receptors in neuroscience. Until the late 1990s PET was, in most cases, a research-oriented activity.

In 2001, Positron Emission Tomography/X-ray Computed Tomography (PET/CT) hybrid imaging systems became commercially available. An era of clinical PET then emerged, in which PET images were utilized for clinical practice in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer patients.

This IAEA-TECDOC presents an overview of clinical PET for cancer patients and a relevant source of information on clinical PET in oncology for nuclear medicine physicians, radiologists and clinical practitioners. Possible ideas for cost effectiveness of clinical PET in oncology are mentioned. The information is also intended to be useful in decision making to improve clinical management of cancer patients when allocating resources dedicated to the health care system. This is a critical issue that is important for the development of both clinical oncology and nuclear medicine in IAEA member states.