Background: Accurate staging for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is critical for determining appropriate therapy. The clinical impact of increasing PET adoption and stage migration is well described in non-small cell lung cancer but not in SCLC. The objective of this study was to evaluate temporal trends in PET staging and survival in the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry and the impact of PET on outcomes. Patients and Methods: Patients diagnosed with SCLC from 2001 to 2010 were identified. PET staging, overall survival (OS), and lung cancer-specific survival (LCSS) were assessed over time. The impact of PET staging on OS and LCSS was assessed for limited-stage (LS) and extensive-stage (ES) SCLC. Results: From 2001 to 2010, PET use in a total of 10,135 patients with SCLC increased from 1.1% to 39.2%. Median OS improved for all patients (from 6.2 to 7.9 months), those with LS-SCLC (from 10.9 to 13.2 months), and those with ES-SCLC (from 5.0 to 7.0 months). Among staged patients, the proportion of ES-SCLC increased from 63.9% to 65.7%. Among 1,536 patients with LS-SCLC treated with concurrent chemoradiotherapy, 397 were staged by PET. In these patients, PET was associated with longer OS (median, 19.8 vs 14.3 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.78; 95% CI, 0.68-0.90; P<.0001) and LCSS (median, 22.9 vs 16.7 months; HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.63-0.87; P<.0001) with multivariate adjustment and propensity-matching. In the 6,143 patients with ES-SCLC, PET was also associated with improved OS and LCSS. Conclusions: From 2001 to 2010, PET staging increased in this large cohort, with a corresponding relative increase in ES-SCLC. PET was associated with greater OS and LCSS for LS-SCLC and ES-SCLC, likely reflecting stage migration and stage-appropriate therapy. These findings emphasize the importance of PET in SCLC and support its routine use.
Copyright © 2019 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.