Background: Interim FDG-PET is used for treatment tailoring in lymphoma. Deauville response criteria consist of five ordinal categories based on visual comparison of residual tumor uptake to physiological reference uptakes. However, PET-response is a continuum and visual assessments can be distorted by optical illusions.
Objectives: With a novel semi-automatic quantification tool we eliminate optical illusions and extend the Deauville score to a continuous scale.
Patients and methods: SUVpeak of residual tumors and average uptake of the liver is measured with standardized volumes of interest. The qPET value is the quotient of these measurements. Deauville scores and qPET-values were determined in 898 pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma patients after two OEPA chemotherapy cycles.
Results: Deauville categories translate to thresholds on the qPET scale: Categories 3, 4, 5 correspond to qPET values of 0.95, 1.3 and 2.0, respectively. The distribution of qPET values is unimodal with a peak representing metabolically normal responses and a tail of clearly abnormal outliers. In our patients, the peak is at qPET = 0.95 coinciding with the border between Deauville 2 and 3. qPET cut values of 1.3 or 2 (determined by fitting mixture models) select abnormal metabolic responses with high sensitivity, respectively, specificity.
Conclusions: qPET methodology provides semi-automatic quantification for interim FDG-PET response in lymphoma extending ordinal Deauville scoring to a continuous scale. Deauville categories correspond to certain qPET cut values. Thresholds between normal and abnormal response can be derived from the qPET-distribution without need for follow-up data. In our patients, qPET < 1.3 excludes abnormal response with high sensitivity.