Predicting pathological response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced rectal cancer using 18FDG-PET/CT

Ann Surg Oncol. 2012 Jul;19(7):2178-85. doi: 10.1245/s10434-012-2248-z. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Background: Pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (CRT) has been observed in 15-30% of patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). The objective of this study was to determine whether PET/CT can predict pCR and disease-free survival in patients receiving CRT with LARC.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of patients with EUS-staged T3-T4, N+rectal tumors treated with CRT, who underwent pre/post-treatment PET/CT from 2002-2009. All patients were treated with CRT and surgical resection. Standardized uptake value (SUV) of each tumor was recorded. Logistic regression was used to analyze the association of pre-CRT SUV, post-CRT SUV, %SUV change, and time between CRT and surgery, compared with pCR. Kaplan-Meier estimation evaluated significant predictors of survival.

Results: Seventy patients (age 62 years; 42M:28F) with preoperative stage T3 (n=61) and T4 (n=9) underwent pre- and post-CRT PET/CT followed by surgery. The pCR rate was 26%. Median pre-CRT SUV was 10.8, whereas the median post-CRT SUV was 4 (P=0.001). Patients with pCR had a lower median post-CRT SUV compared with those without (2.7 vs. 4.5, P=0.01). Median SUV decrease was 63% (7.5-95.5%) and predicted pCR (P=0.002). Patients with a pCR had a greater time interval between CRT and surgery (median, 58 vs. 50 days) than those without (P=0.02). Patients with post-CRT SUV<4 had a lower recurrence compared with those without (P=0.03). Patients with SUV decrease≥63% had improved overall survival at median follow-up of 40 months than those without (P=0.006).

Conclusions: PET/CT can predict response to CRT in patients with LARC. Posttreatment SUV, %SUV decrease, and greater time from CRT to surgery correlate with pCR. Post-CRT, SUV<4, and SUV decrease≥63% were predictive of recurrence-free and overall survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Capecitabine
  • Chemoradiotherapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Fluorouracil / analogs & derivatives
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Capecitabine
  • Fluorouracil