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Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning and computed tomography (CT) are better tools for staging tumors than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), according to new research. In a study involving 98 patients with various kinds of cancer, whole-body PET and CT scanning correctly staged cancer (including tumors, lymph node involvement, and metastasis) in 77% of cases. In contrast, whole-body MRI scanning correctly staged cancer in just 54% of the same 98 patients.


Researchers also found that PET/CT scanning had a direct impact on patient therapy in 12 patients, compared with 2 patients for MRI. Both methods were equally accurate at detecting distant metastases, but PET/CT scanning was more accurate at detecting tumor presence and lymph node involvement. Researchers say their findings suggest that whole-body PET/CT should be a first-line strategy for whole-body tumor staging.




"Whole-Body Dual-Modality PET/CT and Whole-Body MRI for Tumor Staging in Oncology," JAMA, G. Antoch, et al., December 24, 2003.