Objective: We sought to determine the impact of positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) on the management of presumed resectable pancreatic cancer and to assess the cost of this new staging procedure.
Summary background data: PET using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is increasingly used for the staging of pancreatic cancer, but anatomic information is limited. Integrated PET/CT enables optimal anatomic delineation of PET findings and identification of FDG-negative lesions on computed tomography (CT) images and might improve preoperative staging.
Material and methods: Patients with suspected pancreatic cancer who had a PET/CT between June 2001 to April 2004 were entered into a prospective database. Routine staging included abdominal CT, chest x-ray, and CA 19-9 measurement. FDG-PET/CT was conducted according to a standardized protocol, and findings were confirmed by histology. Cost benefit analysis was performed based on charged cost of PET/CT and pancreatic resection and included the time frame of staging and surgery.
Results: Fifty-nine patients with a median age of 61 years (range, 40-80 years) were included in this analysis. Fifty-one patients had lesions in the head and 8 in the tail of the pancreas. The positive and negative predictive values for pancreatic cancer were 91% and 64%, respectively. PET/CT detected additional distant metastases in 5 and synchronous rectal cancer in 2 patients. PET/CT findings changed the management in 16% of patients with pancreatic cancer deemed resectable after routine staging (P = 0.031) and was cost saving.
Conclusions: PET/CT represents an important staging procedure prior to pancreatic resection for cancer, since it significantly improves patient selection and is cost-effective.