Purpose: The relevance of (18)F-FDG PET for staging non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), in particular for the detection of lymph node or distant metastases, has been shown in several studies. The value of FDG-PET for therapy monitoring in NSCLC, in contrast, has not yet been sufficiently analysed. Aim of this study was to evaluate FDG-PET for monitoring treatment response during and after neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy (NARCT) in advanced NSCLC.
Methods: Sixty-five patients with histologically proven NSCLC stage III initially underwent three FDG-PET investigations, during NARCT prior to initiating radiation, and post-NARCT. Changes of FDG-uptake in the primary tumour at two time-points during NARCT were analysed concerning their impact on long-term survival.
Results: The mean maximum FDG uptake (standardized uptake value, SUVmax) of the whole group decreased significantly during NARCT (SUVmax PET 1: 14.9+/-4.0, SUVmax PET 3: 5.5+/-2.4, p=0.004). The difference between initial FDG uptake (PET 1) and uptake after induction chemotherapy (PET 2) was found to be highly predictive for long-term survival patients which had a greater than 60% decreases in their SUV change had a significantly longer survival than those below this threshold (5-year-survival 60% versus 15%, p=0.0007). Patients who had a lower than 25% decrease in their SUV change had a 5-years-survival lower than 5%. Furthermore, the difference between initial FDG uptake (PET 1) and uptake after completion of the whole NARCT (PET 3) was predictive for survival when 75% was applied as cut-off (p=0.02). However, the level of significance was considerably lower.
Conclusion: FDG-PET is suitable for therapy monitoring in patients with stage III NSCLC. The decrease of FDG uptake during induction chemotherapy is highly predictive for patient outcome.