Changes in 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose and 18F-fluorodeoxythymidine positron emission tomography imaging in patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with erlotinib

Linda Mileshkin, Rodney J Hicks, Brett G M Hughes, Paul L R Mitchell, Veena Charu, Barbara J Gitlitz, David Macfarlane, Benjamin Solomon, Lukas C Amler, Wei Yu, Andrea Pirzkall, Bernard M Fine
Clinical Cancer Research 2011 May 15, 17 (10): 3304-15

PURPOSE: Assessing clinical activity of molecularly targeted anticancer agents, especially in the absence of tumor shrinkage, is challenging. To evaluate on-treatment 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and/or 18F-fluorodeoxythymidine (FLT) positron emission tomography (PET) for this purpose, we conducted a prospective multicenter trial assessing PET response rates and associations with progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in 2nd/3rd-line non-small-cell lung cancer patients treated with erlotinib.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: PET/computed tomography (CT) scans were conducted at baseline, day (d)14 and d56 after the first daily erlotinib dose, with diagnostic CT at baseline and d56 (all scans centrally reviewed). PET partial metabolic response (PMR) was defined as a mean decrease (in ≤ 5 lesions/patient) of 15% or more maximum standardized uptake value. PFS was investigator-determined.

RESULTS: Of 74 erlotinib-treated patients, 51 completed all imaging assessments through d56; 13 of 51 (26%) FDG-evaluable patients had PMR at d14, as did 9 of 50 (18%) FLT-evaluable patients. Four (7.8%) showed partial responses (PR) by d56 CT; all 4 had PMR by d14 FDG-PET with 3 PMRs by d14 FLT-PET. Three of the 4 patients with CT PR had evaluable archival tumor tissue; all 3 had epidermal growth factor receptor mutations. D14 and d56 PMRs by FDG or FLT were associated with improved PFS; HRs for PET responders versus nonresponders were 0.3 to 0.4. D14 FDG-PET PMR was associated with improved OS (P = 0.03) compared with FDG-PET nonresponders.

CONCLUSION: Early (d14) FDG-PET PMR is associated with improved PFS and OS, even in the absence of subsequent Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors response. These data support inclusion of FDG-PET imaging in clinical trials testing novel targeted therapies, particularly those with anticipated cytostatic effects.

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