Is PET/CT Able to Predict Histology in Thymic Epithelial Tumours? A Narrative Review

Marco Chiappetta, Paolo Mendogni, Margherita Cattaneo, Jessica Evangelista, Piero Farina, Daniele Antonio Pizzuto, Salvatore Annunziata, Angelo Castello, Maria Teresa Congedo, Diomira Tabacco, Carolina Sassorossi, Massimo Castellani, Mario Nosotti, Stefano Margaritora, Filippo Lococo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Simple Summary Thymic epithelial tumours are rare and insidious malignancies. Histologically, they can be divided into different WHO subtypes and relapse risk classes. Pre-treatment biopsy is not always feasible or accurate in distinguishing WHO classes. (18)FDG PET/CT scan has been reported to play a remarkable role in the prediction of histology in these tumours (the so-called "non-invasive biopsy"). The present narrative review would like to summarise current evidence on this topic and discuss potential applications. Background: The usefulness of (18)FDG PET/CT scan in the evaluation of thymic epithelial tumours (TETs) has been reported by several authors, but data are still limited and its application in clinical practice is far from being defined. Methods: We performed a narrative review of pertinent literature in order to clarify the role of (18)FDG PET/CT in the prediction of TET histology and to discuss clinical implications and future perspectives. Results: There is only little evidence that (18)FDG PET/CT scan may distinguish thymic hyperplasia from thymic epithelial tumours. On the other hand, it seems to discriminate well thymomas from carcinomas and, even more, to predict the grade of malignancy (WHO classes). To this end, SUVmax and other PET variables (i.e., the ratio between SUVmax and tumour dimensions) have been adopted, with good results. Finally, however promising, the future of PET/CT and theranostics in TETs is far from being defined; more robust analysis of imaging texture on thymic neoplasms, as well as new exploratory studies with "stromal PET tracers," are ongoing. Conclusions: PET may play a role in predicting histology in TETs and help physicians in the management of these insidious malignancies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • 18F-FDG PET/CT
  • WHO
  • histology
  • radiometabolic assessment
  • thymic epithelial tumour
  • thymoma


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