FDG PET-CT in non-small cell lung cancer: relationship between primary tumor FDG uptake and extensional or metastatic potential

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(5):2925-9. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2013.14.5.2925.


Objective: To explore the relationships between primary tumor 18F-FDG uptake measured as the SUVmax and local extension, and nodal or distant organ metastasis in patients with NSCLC on pretreatment PET-CT.

Methods: 93 patients with NSCLC who underwent 18F-FDG PET-CT scans before the treatment were included in the study. Primary tumor SUVmax was calculated; clinical stages, presence of local extension, nodal and distant organ metastases were recorded. The patients with SUVmax ≥ 2.5 were divided into low and high SUVmax groups by using the median SUVmax. The low SUVmax group consisted of 45 patients with SUVmax<10.5, the high SUVmax group consisted of 46 patients with SUVmax ≥ 10.5. Their data were compared statistically.

Results: 91 cases with SUVmax≥2.5 were included for analysis. The mean SUVmax in patients without any metastasis was 7.42 ± 2.91 and this was significantly lower than that (12.18 ± 4.94) in patients with nodal and/or distant organ metastasis (P=0.000). In the low SUV group, 19 patients had local extension, 22 had nodal metastasis, and 9 had distant organ metastasis. In the high SUV group, 31 patients had local extension, 37 had nodal metastasis, and 18 had distant organ metastases. There was a significant difference in local extension (P =0.016), distant organ metastasis (P =0.046), and most significant difference in nodal metastasis rate (P =0.002) between the two groups. In addition, there was a moderate correlation between SUVmax and tumor size (r = 0.642, P<0.001), tumor stage (r = 0.546, P<0.001), node stage (r = 0.388, P<0.001), and overall stage (r = 0.445, P= 0.000).

Conclusion: Higher primary tumor SUVmax predicts higher extensional or metastatic potential in patients with NSCLC. Patients with higher SUVmax may need a close follow-up and more reasonable individual treatment because of their higher extensional and metastatic potential.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18