Staging fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography for muscle-invasive bladder cancer: a nationwide population-based study

BJU Int. 2023 Oct;132(4):420-427. doi: 10.1111/bju.16091. Epub 2023 Jun 15.


Objective: To provide insight into the use and staging information on lymph-node involvement added by fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC), based on a nationwide population-based cohort study.

Patients and methods: We analysed a nationwide cohort of patients with MIBC without signs of distant metastases, newly diagnosed in the Netherlands between November 2017 and October 2019. From this cohort, we selected patients who underwent pre-treatment staging with CT only or CT and FDG-PET/CT. The distribution of patients, disease characteristics, imaging findings, nodal status (clinical nodal stage cN0 vs cN+) and treatment were described for each imaging modality group (CT only vs CT and FDG-PET/CT).

Results: We identified 2731 patients with MIBC: 1888 (69.1%) underwent CT only; 606 (22.2%) underwent CT and FDG-PET/CT, 237 (8.6%) underwent no CT. Of the patients who underwent CT only, 200/1888 (10.6%) were staged as cN+, vs 217/606 (35.8%) who underwent CT and FDG-PET/CT. Stratified analysis showed that this difference was found in patients with clinical tumour stage (cT)2 as well as cT3/4 MIBC. Of patients who underwent both imaging modalities and were staged with CT as cN0, 109/498 (21.9%) were upstaged to cN+ based on FDG-PET/CT. Radical cystectomy (RC) was the most common treatment within both imaging groups. Preoperative chemotherapy was more frequently applied in cN+ disease and in FDG-PET/CT-staged patients. Concordance of pathological N stage after upfront RC was higher among patients staged as cN+ with CT and FDG-PET/CT (50.0% pN+) than those staged as cN+ with only CT (39.3%).

Conclusion: Patients with MIBC who underwent pre-treatment staging with FDG-PET/CT were more often staged as lymph node positive, regardless of cT stage. In patients with MIBC who underwent CT and FDG-PET/CT, FDG-PET/CT led to clinical nodal upstaging in approximately one-fifth. Additional imaging findings may influence subsequent treatment strategies.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; FDG-PET/CT; imaging; muscle-invasive; radical cystectomy; staging; urothelial carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography* / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Radiopharmaceuticals