Risk stratification in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma using lesion dissemination and metabolic tumor burden calculated from baseline PET/CT

Ann Oncol. 2021 Mar;32(3):404-411. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2020.11.019. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Background: We analyzed the prognostic value of a new baseline positron emission tomography (PET) parameter reflecting the spread of the disease, the largest distance between two lesions (Dmax). We tested its complementarity to metabolic tumor volume (MTV) in a large cohort of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients from the REMARC trial (NCT01122472).

Patients and methods: MTVs were defined using the 41% maximum standardized uptake value threshold. From the three-dimensional coordinates, the centroid of each lesion was automatically obtained and considered as the lesion location. The distances between all pairs were calculated. Dmax was obtained for each patient and normalized with the body surface area [standardized Dmax (SDmax)].

Results: From the REMARC trial, 290 patients aged 60-80 years were included: 91% had an advanced stage and 71% International Prognostic Index (IPI) ≥3. High versus low SDmax significantly impacted progression-free survival (PFS) (P < 0.0001) and overall survival (OS) (P = 0.0027). Patients with SDmax > 0.32 m-1 (n = 82) had a 4-year PFS and OS of 46% and 71%, respectively, against 77% and 87%, respectively, for patients with low SDmax. High SDmax and high MTV were independent prognostic factors of PFS (P = 0.0001 and P = 0.0010, respectively) and OS (P = 0.0028 and P = 0.0004, respectively). Combining MTV and SDmax yielded three risk groups with no (n = 109), one (n = 122) or two (n = 59) factors (P < 0.0001 for both PFS and OS). The 4-year PFS were 90%, 63%, 41%, respectively, and the 4-year OS were 95%, 79%, 66%, respectively. In addition, patients with at least two of the three factors including high SDmax, high MTV, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) ≥2 had a higher number of central nervous system relapse (P = 0.017).

Conclusions: SDmax is a simple feature that captures lymphoma dissemination, independent from MTV. These two PET metrics, SDmax and MTV, are complementary to characterize the disease, reflecting the tumor burden and its spread. This score appeared promising for DLBCL baseline risk stratification.

Keywords: DLBCL; PET/CT; lesion dissemination; metabolic tumor volume.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tumor Burden


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01122472