Recurrent renal cell carcinoma: clinical and prognostic value of FDG PET/CT

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2016 Mar;43(3):464-73. doi: 10.1007/s00259-015-3159-6. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Purpose: The purpose of our study was 1) to evaluate the diagnostic performance of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT), 2) to assess the impact of FDG PET/CT on treatment decision-making, and 3) to estimate the prognostic value of FDG PET/CT in the restaging process among patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Methods: From the FDG PET/CT databases of San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, and the Veneto Institute of Oncology in Padua, Italy, we selected 104 patients with a certain diagnosis of RCC after surgery, and for whom at least 24 months of post-surgical FDG PET/CT, clinical, and instrumental follow-up data was available. The sensitivity and specificity of FDG PET/CT were assessed by histology and/or other imaging as standard of reference. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were computed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to identify predictors of outcome.

Results: FDG PET/CT resulted in a positive diagnosis in 58 patients and a negative diagnosis in 46 patients. Sensitivity and specificity were 74% and 80%, respectively. FDG PET/CT findings influenced therapeutic management in 45/104 cases (43%). After a median follow-up period of 37 months (± standard deviation 12.9), 51 (49%) patients had recurrence of disease, and 26 (25%) had died. In analysis of OS, positive versus negative FDG PET/CT was associated with worse cumulative survival rates over a 5-year period (19% vs. 69%, respectively; p <0.05). Similarly, a positive FDG PET/CT correlated with a lower 3-year PFS rate. In addition, univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that a positive scan, alone or in combination with disease stage III-IV or nuclear grading 3-4, was associated with high risk of progression (multivariate analysis = hazard ratios [HRs] of 4.01, 3.7, and 2.8, respectively; all p < 0.05).

Conclusions: FDG PET/CT is a valuable tool both in treatment decision-making and for predicting survival and progression in patients affected by RCC.

Keywords: FDG PET/CT; Multivariate analysis; Prognosis; Recurrence; Renal cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18