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Changes in biodistribution on 68 Ga-DOTA-Octreotate PET/CT after long acting somatostatin analogue therapy in neuroendocrine tumour patients may result in pseudoprogression.

BACKGROUND: To evaluate the effects of long-acting somatostatin analogue (SSA) therapy on 68 Ga-DOTA-octreotate (GaTate) uptake at physiological and metastatic sites in neuroendocrine tumour (NET) patients.

METHODS: Twenty-one patients who underwent GaTate PET/CT before and after commencement of SSA therapy were reviewed. Maximum standardized uptake values (SUVmax) were measured in normal organs. Changes in uptake of 49 metastatic lesions in 12 patients with stable disease were also compared. Serum chromogranin-A (CgA) levels were available for correlation between scans in 17/21 patients.

RESULTS: Mean thyroid, spleen and liver SUVmax decreased significantly following SSA therapy from a baseline of 5.9 to 3.5, 30.3 to 23.1 and 10.3 to 8.0, respectively (p = < 0.0001 for all). Pituitary SUVmax increased from 10.2 to 11.0 (p = 0.004) whereas adrenal and salivary gland SUVmax did not change. Tumour SUVmax increased in 7 of 12 patients with stable disease; CgA was stable or decreasing in 5 of these patients. 30/49 (61%) metastatic lesions had an increase in SUVmax and lesion-to-liver uptake ratio increased in 40/49 (82%) following SSA therapy.

CONCLUSION: Long-acting SSA therapy decreases GaTate uptake in the thyroid, spleen and liver but in most cases increases intensity of uptake within metastases. This has significant implications for interpretation of GaTate PET/CT following commencement of therapy as increased intensity alone may not represent true progression. Our findings also suggest pre-dosing with SSA prior to PRRT may enable higher doses to be delivered to tumour whilst decreasing dose to normal tissues.

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