Nuclear medicine techniques for the imaging and treatment of neuroendocrine tumours
Nuclear medicine plays a pivotal role in the imaging and treatment of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS) with [111In-DTPA0]octreotide has proven its role in the diagnosis and staging of gastroenteropancreatic NETs (GEP-NETs). New techniques in somatostatin receptor imaging include the use of different radiolabelled somatostatin analogues with higher affinity and different affinity profiles to the somatostatin receptor subtypes. Most of these analogues can also be labelled with positron-emitting radionuclides that are being used in positron emission tomography imaging. The latter imaging modality, especially in the combination with computed tomography, is of interest because of encouraging results in terms of improved imaging quality and detection capabilities. Considerable advances have been made in the imaging of NETs, but to find the ideal imaging method with increased sensitivity and better topographic localisation of the primary and metastatic disease remains the ultimate goal of research. This review provides an overview of the currently used imaging modalities and ongoing developments in the imaging of NETs, with the emphasis on nuclear medicine and puts them in perspective of clinical practice. The advantage of SRS over other imaging modalities in GEP-NETs is that it can be used to select patients with sufficient uptake for treatment with radiolabelled somatostatin analogues. Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is a promising new tool in the management of patients with inoperable or metastasised NETs as it can induce symptomatic improvement with all Indium-111, Yttrium-90 or Lutetium-177-labelled somatostatin analogues. The results that were obtained with [90Y-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3] octreotate are even more encouraging in terms of objective tumour responses with tumour regression and documented prolonged time to progression. In the largest group of patients receiving PRRT, treated with [177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotate, a survival benefit of several years compared with historical controls has been reported.