Purpose: To assess the accuracy of positron emission tomography (PET) with 2-deoxy-2-[(18)F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) for evaluating local and distant disease in patients with cervical cancer.
Methods: The PET imaging database maintained at our institution was used to identify patients who received FDG-PET scans for the clinical indication of cervical cancer for the past four years. Patients were followed for a minimum of six months following the PET study. Results of the FDG-PET studies were correlated with surgical pathology, biopsy results, and/or clinical follow up to assess the accuracy of FDG-PET in evaluating local and distant disease.
Results: A total of 61 FDG-PET studies performed in 41 patients were included in this retrospective study. Nine FDG-PET studies were performed for initial staging of cervical cancer, and 52 PET scans were performed in 35 different patients as restaging studies following therapy. For the initial staging, the local primary disease was identified in all nine FDG-PET studies, and PET distinguished the patients which had localized disease (four patients) from those with distant metastases on follow-up (five patients) with 100% accuracy. For restaging cervical cancer, FDG-PET had a sensitivity of 0.82 and specificity of 0.97 (accuracy 0.92) for evaluation of local recurrence. For evaluating distant disease in these patients, PET had a sensitivity of 1.00 and specificity of 0.90 (accuracy 0.94). In the evaluation of local disease, focal rectal activity caused false-positive results in two cases. Three false-positive studies for distant disease were caused by inflammatory adenopathy.
Conclusion: FDG-PET is an accurate modality both for initial staging and restaging of patients with cervical cancer. PET is particularly sensitive for detecting distant metastases, allowing stratification of patients into those with locally confined disease and those with distant disease. These results were achieved by using a standardized PET imaging protocol without the use of bowel preparations, lasix administration, or Foley catheter drainage. Evaluation of local disease can be challenging due to adjacent rectal and bladder activity, and the use of hybrid PET/computed tomography (CT) scanners in the future may further improve evaluation of local disease.