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Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors



Imaging modalities for GI carcinoids include the use of somatostatin scintigraphy with 111Indium-octreotide; bone scintigraphy with 99mTcMDP; 123I-MIBG scintigraphy; computed tomography (CT); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); positron emission tomography (PET); endoscope ultrasound (EUS); capsule endoscopy (CE); enteroscopy; and angiography.[26]

Somatostatin receptor scintigraphy

There are five different somatostatin receptor (SSTR) subtypes; more than 70% of NETs of both the GI tract and pancreas express multiple subtypes, with a predominance of receptor subtype 2 [sst(2)] and receptor subtype 5 [sst(5)].[50,51] The synthetic radiolabeled SSTR analog 111In-DTP-d-Phe10-{octreotide} affords an important method, somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS), to localize carcinoid tumors, especially sst(2)-positive and sst(5)-positive tumors; imaging is accomplished in one session, and small primary tumors and metastases are diagnosed more readily than with conventional imaging or imaging techniques requiring multiple sessions.[26,52,53] Overall sensitivity of the octreotide scan is reported to be as high as 90%; however, failed detection may result from various technical issues, small tumor size, or inadequate expression of SSTRs.[26,54]

Bone scintigraphy

Bone scintigraphy with 99mTcMDP is the primary imaging modality for identifying bone involvement in NETs and detection rates are reported to be 90% or higher.[26] 123I-MIBG is concentrated by carcinoid tumors in as many as 70% of cases using the same mechanism as norepinephrine and is used successfully to visualize carcinoids; however, 123I-MIBG appears to be about half as sensitive as 111In-octreotide scintigraphy in detecting tumors.[26,55]


CT and MRI are important modalities used in the initial localization of carcinoid primaries and/or metastases. The median detection rate and sensitivity of CT and/or MRI have been estimated at 80%; detection rates by CT alone vary between 76% and 100%, while MRI detection rates vary between 67% and 100%.[26] CT and MRI may be used for initial localization of the tumor only because both imaging techniques may miss lesions otherwise detected by 111In-octreotide scintigraphy; one study has shown that lesions in 50% of patients were missed, especially in lymph nodes and extrahepatic locations.[26,56]


A promising approach for PET as an imaging modality to visualize GI carcinoids appears to be the use of the radioactive-labeled serotonin precursor 11C-5-hydroxytryptophan (11C-5-HTP). With 11C-5-HTP, tumor detection rates have been reported to be as high as 100%, and some investigators have concluded that 11C-5-HTP PET should be used as a universal detection method for detecting NETs.[57,58,59] In one study of NETS, including 18 patients with GI carcinoids, 11C-5-HTP PET detected tumor lesions in 95% of patients. In 58% of cases, 11C-5-HTP PET detected more lesions than SRS and CT, compared to the 7% that 11C-5-HTP PET did not detect.[59] Other imaging approaches have been investigated using technetium-labeled isotopes, combining CT/MRI with 18F-DOPA PET, combining 131 MIBG with 111In-octreotide, and coupling the isotopes 68Ga and 64Cu to octreotide.[26]


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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