The role of sequential 18(F) -FDG PET/CT in predicting tumour response after preoperative chemoradiation for rectal cancer

W Sun, J Xu, W Hu, Z Zhang, W Shen
Colorectal Disease 2013, 15 (5): e231-8

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of sequential positron emission tomography (PET)/CT standardized uptake value (SUV)/metabolic area variation in predicting the pathological response to preoperative chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for rectal cancer.

METHOD: Fifty-three patients diagnosed with clinical T3-4 and/or N+ rectal cancer were enrolled. All patients received CRT followed by radical surgery after 6-8 weeks. A PET/CT scan was performed before (PET/CT1) initiation of treatment and a second scan (PET/CT2) was performed within 1 week after the completion of CRT. Thirty-five of 53 patients also underwent a third (PET/CT3) scan within 1 week before surgery. Maximal SUV within the tumour (SUVmax), average SUV within the tumour (SUVmean), metabolic tumour volume (MV), total lesion glycolysis (TLG) and response indices (∆%, i.e. the percentage difference between two different PET/CT scans for SUVmax, SUVmean, MV and TLG) were calculated. The different metabolic parameters were analysed and correlated with the tumour regression grade (TRG) score.

RESULTS: When patients were regrouped as responders (TRG 3-4) and nonresponders (TRG 0-2), significant differences were observed in the percentage differences between PET/CT1 and PET/CT3 for MV (∆%MV(1-3); 91.08% vs 75.43%) and for TLG (∆%TLG(1-3); 94.00% vs 82.02%). As demonstrated by receiver-operating characteristics analysis, ∆%MV(1-3) and ∆%TLG(1-3) both had a strong capability to discriminate between responders and nonresponders. Patients classified as having a pathological complete response (pCR) and a non-pCR showed significant differences in the percentage difference between PET/CT1 and PET/CT3 in SUVmax (∆% SUVmax(1-3); 69.17% vs 57.77%), SUVmean (∆% SUVmean(1-3); 44.20% vs 30.19%), ∆%MV(1-3) (90.93% vs 80.30%) and ∆%TLG(1-3) (94.22% vs 85.63%). ∆%TLG (1-3) was a more powerful discriminator than the others.

CONCLUSION: Differences in the SUV/metabolic area with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18(F) -FDG) PET/CT have the potential to predict a response to preoperative CRT for rectal cancer.

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