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Cancer Imaging

Open Access

Role of molecular imaging in the detection of neuroendocrine tumour

  • Damian Wild1
Cancer Imaging201414(Suppl 1):O29

Published: 9 October 2014

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) have distinct biological and clinical characteristics, in particular a high density of somatostatin receptors at the cell membrane [1]. It is this property that allows the use of radiolabelled somatostatin analogues for imaging of these tumours. Importantly, somatostatin receptor PET/CT imaging (e.g. 68Ga-DOTATOC, 68Ga-DOTATATE, 68Ga-DOTANOC) is superior to somatostatin receptor scintigraphy including SPECT/CT [2] and 18F-DOPA PET/CT [3] in the detection of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP NETs).

NETs, however, have a wide range of cellular differentiation. 18F-FDG PET/CT is of limited value in well-differentiated NETs but of high value in poorly differentiated NETs. Somatostatin receptor PET/CT shows contrary results [4]. As both 18F-FDG PET/CT and somatostatin receptor PET/CT exploit distinct tumour characteristics they are complementary for tumour staging.

Small insulinomas are difficult to detect with 18F-FDG PET/CT, somatostatin receptor PET/CT, 18F-DOPA PET/CT and morphological imaging. Targeting of Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors using radiolabelled exendin-4 has shown to be highly effective in the detection of these tumours [5].

Clinical studies have shown higher tumour uptake of radiolabelled somatostatin receptor antagonists than somatostatin receptor agonists [6]. As a result radiolabelled somatostatin receptor antagonists may have a significant impact on imaging of NETs.

Authors’ Affiliations

Division of Nuclear Medicine, University Basel Hospital, Basel, Switzerland


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© Wild; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.