Background: To correlate the metabolic changes with size changes for tumor response by concomitant PET-CT evaluation of lung cancers after radiotherapy.
Methods: 36 patients were studied pre- and post-radiotherapy with18FDG PET-CT scans at a median interval of 71 days. All of the patients were followed clinically and radiographically after a mean period of 342 days for assessment of local control or failure rates. Change in size (sum of maximum orthogonal diameters) was correlated with that of maximum standard uptake value (SUV) of the primary lung cancer before and after conventional radiotherapy.
Results: There was a significant reduction in both SUV and size of the primary cancer after radiotherapy (p < 0.00005). Among the 20 surviving patients, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy using PET (SUV) were 94%, 50%, 90% respectively and the corresponding values using and CT (size criteria) were 67%, 50%, and 65% respectively. The metabolic change (SUV) was highly correlated with the change in size by a quadratic function. In addition, the mean percentage metabolic change was significantly larger than that of size change (62.3 +/- 32.7% vs 47.1 +/- 26.1% respectively, p = 0.03)
Conclusion: Correlating and incorporating metabolic change by PET into size change by concomitant CT is more sensitive in assessing therapeutic response than CT alone.