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The body’s main fuel sources are fats, carbohydrates (glucose), proteins, and ketone bodies. It is well known that an important hallmark of cancer cells is the overconsumption of glucose. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using the glucose analog 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) has been a powerful cancer diagnostic tool for many decades. Apart from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy represent the two main domains for cancer therapy, targeting tumor proliferation, cell division, and DNA replication—all processes that require a large amount of energy. Currently, in vivo clinical imaging of metabolism is performed almost exclusively using PET radiotracers that assess oxygen consumption and mechanisms of energy substrate consumption. This paper reviews the utility of PET imaging biomarkers for the detection of cancer proliferation, vascularization, metabolism, treatment response, and follow-up after radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and chemotherapy-related side effects.
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