Association between 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose uptake values and tumor vitality: prognostic value of positron emission tomography in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer

Christophe Dooms, Angela van Baardwijk, Eric Verbeken, Robert Jan van Suylen, Sigrid Stroobants, Dirk De Ruysscher, Johan Vansteenkiste
Journal of Thoracic Oncology 2009, 4 (7): 822-8

INTRODUCTION: The prognostic value of quantitative 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) uptake on positron emission tomography (PET) is controversial in unselected patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We assessed the in vivo FDG uptake, measured as maximum pixel standardized uptake value (SUVmax), in stages I and II NSCLC for its prognostic value and association with in vitro quantitative morphology of tumor vitality.

METHODS: Prospective FDG-PET data were available in 91 consecutive patients operated for pathologic stages I and II NSCLC. Quantitative morphology was performed of tumor architecture, tumor cell density and immunohistochemical biomarkers for apoptosis (caspase-3), cell proliferation (Ki-67), hypoxia (HIF-1alpha), cellular pH regulation (carbonic anhydrase IX [CAIX]), and microvessel density (CD31).

RESULTS: SUVmax >or= median and SUVmax partial volume corrected for lesion size (PVC SUVmax) >or= median were associated with an increased risk of death in univariable analysis. After correcting for stage, tumor size and age in multivariable analysis, only PVC SUVmax >or= median remained significant. The strong significant association between tumor size and SUVmax weakened after PVC, suggesting that an important amount of SUVmax can be simply explained by tumor size, which is less in case for PVC SUVmax that associates more to the tumor cell density. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, a PVC SUVmax >or= median could be explained by high Ki-67 and high-CAIX length density.

CONCLUSION: PVC SUVmax has a prognostic value in completely resected stages I and II NSCLC. A high-quantitative FDG uptake is associated with characteristics of tumor vitality such as high tumor cell density, high cell proliferation, and extracellular acidosis.

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