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New Findings On Lung Transplantation And Esophageal Cancer To Be Released At Society Of Thoracic Surgeons Meeting

January 25, 1999

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 25 -- A number of papers are being presented by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) researchers at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Thirty-Fifth Annual Meeting Monday, Jan. 25, through Wednesday, Jan. 27, in San Antonio. Following are highlights of clinical findings that will be presented:

PET Scanning Plays Role in Staging Esophageal Cancer

Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning may be superior to conventional imaging in staging esophageal cancer, especially in the detection of distant metastases, UPMC researchers will report on Monday, Jan. 25.

Between July 1995 and August 1998, UPMC doctors collected 100 consecutive PET scans in 91 patients with esophageal cancer referred for surgery and compared them to computerized tomography (CT) films and bone scans.

"When compared to PET scanning, CT scanning is less likely to detect metastases and more likely to detect spots that are not cancer," said James Luketich, M.D., assistant professor of surgery and co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's Lung Cancer Program.

PET had an overall accuracy of 84 percent. By contrast, CT was only 63 percent accurate in detecting distant metastases.

"PET scanning is a tool that, although originally used for neural imaging, has adapted well to the field of oncology," said Dr. Luketich, who also is section head, thoracic surgery; director, thoracic oncology; and co-director, Minimally Invasive Surgery Center. "This enhanced ability allows us to make better treatment decisions and thus create the best chance for cure when possible and adequate palliation when appropriate."

The incidence of esophageal cancer has been rising at an alarming rate in the United States since the mid-1970s. The rise in this cancer has been documented as ranging from 4 to 10 percent a year, exceeding other types of cancer. The most consistent risk factor is chronic esophageal reflux disease, or heartburn, which may lead to Barrett's Esophagus, a complication of reflux disease, which can develop into esophageal cancer.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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