Non-small cell lung cancer: FDG PET for nodal staging in patients with stage I disease

Radiology. 2000 Jun;215(3):886-90. doi: 10.1148/radiology.215.3.r00jn29886.


Purpose: To determine the accuracy of 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in the evaluation of regional lymph nodes in patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Materials and methods: Imaging and clinical findings obtained during 5 years in 84 patients (mean age, 66 years) were reviewed. Patients had thoracic computed tomographic findings of stage I NSCLC, an FDG PET study, and histopathologic proof of lung cancer. At the time of diagnosis, disease stage was assigned on the basis of FDG PET results and was compared with the histopathologic stage to determine the accuracy of PET.

Results: When PET stage was compared with histopathologic stage, the disease in 72 (86%) patients was accurately staged with PET, understaged in two (2%), and overstaged in 10 (12%). The overall sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for PET of regional lymph nodal metastases were 82%, 86%, 47%, and 97%, respectively.

Conclusion: FDG PET enables accurate staging of regional lymph node disease in patients with stage I NSCLC. A negative PET scan in these patients suggests that mediastinoscopy is unnecessary and that these patients can proceed directly to thoracotomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / statistics & numerical data
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18