Background: : To analyse current literature on FDG-PET for evaluation of lung lesions, N-staging, M-staging, and recurrence of lung cancer for the third German Consensus Conference on PET in oncology.
Methods: Specialists in nuclear medicine, pneumology, radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, and thoracic surgery reviewed the relevant literature as listed in MEDLINE from 1985 to 1999 for further analysis. Out of the published data cumulative test parameters and summary receiver operating characteristic curves (sROC curves) were computed.
Results: Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of FDG-PET are 96 %, 80 %, 91 % for evaluating lung lesions (15 studies with at least 35, in total 1144 patients). With corresponding values of 88 %, 92 %, 91 % (20 studies, 1292 patients) for N-staging FDG-PET is superior to CT with 65 %, 76 %, 73 % (19 studies, 1268 patients). With 94 %, 97 %, 96 % (4 studies, 336 patients) M-staging with FDG-PET is very accurate and changed therapeutic management in 18 % of the cases (8 studies, 695 patients), unexpected extrathoracic metastases were found in 12 % (7 studies, 581 patients). FDG-PET is the most accurate non-invasive method to evaluate suspected adrenal metastases (3 studies, 263 patients, sensitivity 96 %, specificity 99 %, accuracy 98 %). Recurrence is detected accurately (4 studies, 224 patients, sensitivity 99 %, specificity 89 %, accuracy 95 %).
Conclusions: Studies with in total more than 1000 patients show the high diagnostic efficacy of FDG-PET and its superiority to conventional imaging in lung cancer. Based on this analysis the third German Consensus Conference on PET in oncology evaluated FDG-PET on lung cancer. 1a-indications are evaluation of lung nodules in patients at risk for complications during surgery, N-staging, M-staging (except brain), and detection of recurrence.