Overall survival for patients with pancreatic cancer remains poor.
Challenges in the care of patients with pancreatic cancer include late
presentation and difficulties in early diagnosis. Standard diagnosis of
patients with pancreatic cancer consists of a computed tomography (CT)
scan, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and camera tests.
Additional imaging tests may be able to identify pancreatic cancer and
the stage of disease more effectively. This would mean that patients
would receive the most appropriate treatment at the right time. Positron
emission tomography (PET)/CT is a nuclear medicine scan that gives a
functional image of the body along with the CT scan. This study used
PET/CT in patients with suspected pancreatic cancer as well as standard
tests to see if the diagnosis and treatment of these patients could be
improved. In total, 550 patients had PET/CT scans. The PET/CT added
significantly to the accuracy of standard tests, improving the diagnosis
of pancreatic cancer. PET/CT influenced the management of 45% of
patients. PET/CT was able to correctly stage the extent of the tumours
in a greater number of patients than standard diagnostic tests. This
meant that the addition of PET/CT changed the management of these
patients to more appropriate therapies. The biggest benefit was seen for
those patients who were due to have surgery. We calculated that the use
of PET/CT was likely to be good value for money for the NHS. This study
suggests that PET/CT is likely to be beneficial in the diagnosis and
management of patients with suspected pancreatic cancer.