Role of nuclear medicine in the diagnosis and therapy of medullary thyroid carcinoma.

V. Rufini, M. Salvatori, M. C. Garganese, D. Di Giuda, M. Lodovica Maussier, L. Troncone

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Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) originates in the parafollicular cells (C cells) of the thyroid, secreting both calcitonin and CEA. Genetic and biochemical testing allow early pre-clinical identification of familial forms. Sporadic MTC usually presents as a solitary palpable thyroid nodule and in most cases the definitive diagnosis is established only at the time of surgery. Nuclear medicine procedures, which play a minor role in the preoperative evaluation of MTC, are essential in postoperative follow-up to detect residual and/or recurrent tumor. A number of radiopharmaceuticals are able to visualize MTC lesions with considerable advantages in diagnosis and prognosis, some of them having also a therapeutic role. Among them, 99mTc[V]DMSA shows the highest diagnostic sensitivity and is considered by many authors the radiopharmaceutical of choice in the postoperative work-up of MTC. Radioiodinated MIBG, in spite of its high specificity has a poor sensitivity (30%); however it is useful for the identification of pheochromocytoma and, in patients showing MIBG uptake in tumoral lesions, high activities of 131I-MIBG may be used for therapy. 111In labeled octreotide detects lesions which express somatostatin receptors; a positive scintigraphic result seems to give also prognostic information (higher uptake in slow-growing lesions) and provides the basis for treatment with octreotide or lanreotide and 111In or 90Y-labeled octreotide analogues. Interesting perspectives are offered by 18F-FDG PET and monoclonal anti-CEA labeled antibodies; the latter may be also used for therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-282
Number of pages10
JournalRays - International Journal of Radiological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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