Background: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a primary malignancy characterized by local invasion of the pleura and metastasis. Despite advances in computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), accurately staging patients remains challenging. Recent studies have examined the use of integrated CT-positron emission tomography (PET) for staging patients.
Materials and methods: Mayo Clinic databases were queried to identify cases with a histologic diagnosis of MPM from 2000 to 2006. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of MPM, an available CT scan, and an initial staging integrated CT-PET scan. A total of 35 patients were identified who met the inclusion criteria. Computed tomography and integrated CT-PET scans were reviewed by experienced radiologists. Laboratory parameters were reviewed. The Mayo Clinic tumor registry and Social Security database were queried for survival data in patients in which no follow-up was available.
Results: Findings on integrated CT-PET excluded 14 of 35 patients from surgical intervention. Extrapleural pneumonectomies (EPPs) were performed in 8 patients, and partial pleurectomies were performed in 2 patients. Upstaging from integrated CT-PET occurred in 70% of the patients when surgical pathology was available, 2 cases to an inoperable stage. Although not statistically significant, median survival was 20 months for patients undergoing an EPP and 12 months for patients excluded from surgical intervention by integrated CT-PET.
Conclusion: Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a difficult disease to accurately stage. The most common reason for upstaging in our series was an increase in T (tumor; tumor-node-metastasis staging system) disease. Our data suggest that integrated CT-PET is excellent for detecting nodal and distant metastases. However, the ability of this imaging modality to correctly stage locoregional disease is not superior to the combination of CT and MRI as reported in the literature.