Aim: to document the impact of integrated positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) on the management of a cohort of UK patients undergoing PET/CT as part of their staging investigations for potentially curable oesophageal cancer.<br/><br/>Materials and methods: a multicentre, prospective study of newly diagnosed patients with oesophageal cancer undergoing PET/CT was set up across five cancer networks covering a total population of 6.6 million. Data were prospectively collected for cases diagnosed between 1 November 2006 and 31 October 2007.<br/><br/>Results: one hundred and ninety-one patients underwent PET/CT, with 31 (16%) positive for possible metastatic disease. Amongst the 31 positive examinations, 18 (9.4%) were confirmed to have metastatic disease, and 13 (6.5%) patients had no subsequent evidence of metastatic disease, although in three (1.6%) of these a second previously unsuspected pathology was diagnosed. Two patients had false-negative PET/CT and were found to have metastatic disease. The results of the PET/CT examination down-staged 10 (5%) patients thought to have coeliac/M1a node involvement on CT. Fifteen of 110 (13%) patients with stage 3 or 4 disease at CT and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) had confirmed metastatic disease at PET/CT, compared with none of 18 with stage 2b, three of 52 (6%) with stage 2a, and none of 10 with stage 1 disease.<br/><br/>Conclusion: this study confirms the role of PET/CT in a multicentre UK setting in the management of patients with potentially curable carcinoma of the oesophagus, improving the accuracy of pre-treatment staging compared with CT and EUS alone. Early tumours infrequently show evidence of metastasis on PET/CT, although further data are required to confidently determine the stage of tumours where PET/CT has no additional valu
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