Background: The 2-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging is an advance over computed tomography alone in the staging of untreated nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Aside from one 9-patient study, there are no data comparing FDG-PET imaging with surgical staging of NSCLC after induction therapy.
Methods: We reviewed our institutional experience with FDG-PET imaging followed by surgical staging of nonsmall cell lung cancer after induction therapy. A nuclear physician blinded to surgical findings reviewed the FDG-PET scans and assigned a clinical TNM stage. A thoracic surgeon assigned a pathologic TNM stage. Then the clinical TNM stage and the pathologic TNM stage were compared.
Results: Fifty-six patients (30 males and 26 females; median, age 60) with nonsmall cell lung cancer underwent chemotherapy (40 patients), chemoradiation (11 patients), or radiation alone (5 patients) followed by PET and operations. PET had a positive predictive value of 98% for detecting residual viable disease in the primary tumor. PET over-staged nodal status in 33% of patients, under staged nodal status in 15%, and was correct in 52%. PET correctly classified all patients with M1 disease.
Conclusions: Positron emission tomography after induction therapy accurately detects residual viable primary tumor, but not the involvement of mediastinal lymph nodes.