Long term follow-up of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) investigating early positron emission tomography (PET) scan as a predictor of outcome

BMC Cancer. 2019 Jan 14;19(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5284-2.


Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is effective in improving survival of resectable NSCLC. Based on findings in the adjuvant and metastatic setting, FDG positron emission tomography (PET) scans may offer early prognostic or predictive value after one cycle of induction chemotherapy.

Methods: In this phase II non-randomized trial, patients with AJCC version 6 stage IB to IIIB operable NSCLC were treated with 3 cycles of cisplatin and pemetrexed neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Patients underwent FDG-PET scanning prior to and 18 to 21 days after the first cycle of chemotherapy. Investigators caring for patients were blinded to results, unless the scans showed evidence of disease progression. FDG-PET response was defined prospectively as a ≥ 20% decrease in the SUV of the primary lesion.

Results: Between October 2005 and February 2010, 25 patients enrolled. Fifty two percent were female, 88% white, and median age was 62 years. Histology was divided into adenocarcinoma 66%, not otherwise specified (NOS) 16%, squamous cell 12%, and large cell 4%. Stage distribution was: 16% IB, 4% IIB, and 79% IIIA. Treatment was well tolerated and only one patient had a grade 4 toxicity. The median follow up was 95 months. The 5 year progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) for the entire population were 54 and 67%, respectively. Eighteen patients had a baseline FDG-PET scan and a repeat scan at day 18-21 available for comparison. Ten patients (56%) were considered metabolic responders on the day 18-21 FDG-PET scan. Responders had a 5 year PFS and OS of 60 and 70%, respectively, while the percentage for non-responders was 63 and 75% (p = 0.96 and 0.85).

Conclusions: This phase II trial did not demonstrate that a PET scan after one cycle of chemotherapy can predict survival outcomes of patients with NSCLC treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Trial registration: NCT00227539 registered September 28th, 2005.

Keywords: (18F)-FDG PET; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Non-small cell lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00227539