The prognostic significance of maximum standardized uptake value of primary tumor in surgically treated non-small-cell lung cancer patients: analysis of 413 cases

Clin Lung Cancer. 2013 Mar;14(2):149-56. doi: 10.1016/j.cllc.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


Background: Integrated PET/CT is widely used in the preoperative staging and prognostic assessment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. The aims of this study were to evaluate the prognostic significance of SUVmax of primary tumor in patients undergoing surgical treatment and, in order to minimize technical interferences, to verify whether SUVmax standardized by SUVmax liver or SUVmax blood pool provided additional prognostic information.

Patients and methods: A retrospective study of 413 consecutive NSCLC patients undergoing potentially curative surgical resection after PET/CT obtained in the same PET center over a 6-year period. The SUVmax was calculated drawing region of interest around the primitive tumor, the liver, and the aortic arch in PET images. The same procedure was performed for 2 adjacent planes and the average of these measures was considered.

Results: Nine patients were considered 30-day postoperative deaths and were excluded from the analysis. At the end of the study, 312 (77.2%) of the 404 patients were alive (median follow-up, 26 months) and 92 had died (median survival, 17 months). At multivariate analysis tumor-node-metastasis stage, primary tumor grading and primary tumor SUVmax (T-SUVmax) were found to be independent prognostic factors, while T-SUVmax/SUVmax blood pool ratio, and T-SUVmax/SUVmax liver ratio were not.

Conclusions: T-SUVmax is an independent predictor for survival in NSCLC patients undergoing surgery and might be helpful in guiding adjuvant treatment strategies. SUVmax of primary tumor normalized by SUV blood pool or SUV liver does not provide additional prognostic information.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18