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Detection of distant interval metastases after neoadjuvant therapy for esophageal cancer with 18F-FDG PET(/CT): a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Restaging after neoadjuvant therapy aims to reduce the number of patients undergoing esophagectomy in case of distant (interval) metastases. The aim of this study is to systematically review and meta-analyze the diagnostic performance of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG PET) and 18F-FDG PET/CT for the detection of distant interval metastases after neoadjuvant therapy in patients with esophageal cancer. PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane library were systematically searched. The analysis included diagnostic studies reporting on the detection of distant interval metastases with 18F-FDG PET(/CT) in patients with esophageal cancer who received neoadjuvant therapy and both baseline staging and restaging after neoadjuvant therapy with 18F-FDG PET(/CT) imaging. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of patients in whom distant interval metastases were detected by 18F-FDG PET(/CT) as confirmed by pathology or clinical follow-up (i.e. true positives). The secondary outcome measure was the proportion of patients in whom 18F-FDG PET(/CT) restaging was false positive for distant interval metastases (i.e. false positives). Risk of bias and applicability concerns were assessed using the QUADAS-2 tool. Random-effect models were used to estimate pooled outcomes and examine potential sources of heterogeneity. Fourteen studies were included comprising a total of 1,110 patients who received baseline staging with 18F-FDG PET(/CT) imaging of whom 1,001 (90%) underwent restaging with 18F-FDG PET(/CT) imaging. Studies were generally of moderate quality. The pooled proportion of patients in whom true distant interval metastases were detected by 18F-FDG PET(/CT) restaging was 8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5-13%). The pooled proportion of patients in whom false positive distant findings were detected by 18F-FDG PET(/CT) restaging was 5% (95% CI: 3-9%). In conclusion,18F-FDG PET(/CT) restaging after neoadjuvant therapy for esophageal cancer detects true distant interval metastases in 8% of patients. Therefore, 18F-FDG PET(/CT) restaging can considerably impact on treatment decision-making. However, false positive distant findings occur in 5% of patients at restaging with 18F-FDG PET(/CT), underlining the need for pathological confirmation of suspected lesions.

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