Follow-up scans proved beneficial for lung cancer patients

18 Feb 2015

New research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine reveals a high value of scans which could lead to future change of reimbursement policies for follow-up positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) studies in lung cancer.

The study, featured in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, establishes the value of fourth and subsequent follow-up PET/CT scans in clinical assessment and management change in patients with the disease.

Clinical details and results

In the retrospective study, a total of 1,171 patients with biopsy-proven lung cancer who had positron emission tomography with a radioactive tracer, were identified at a single tertiary center from 2001 to 2013. Among these, 7.3% had four or more follow up PET/CT scans with a total of 285 fourth and subsequent follow up PET/CT scans. Median follow up from the fourth scan was 31.4 months. The follow-up PET/CT scan results were correlated with clinical assessment and treatment changes.


The study revealed the following:

  • Of the 285 fourth and subsequent follow-up PET/CT scans, 52.28% were interpreted as positive and 47.7% were interpreted as negative for recurrence or metastasis.
  • PET/CT identified recurrence or metastasis in 44.3% of scans performed without prior clinical suspicion and ruled out recurrence or metastasis in 24.2% of scans performed without prior clinical suspicion.
  • The PET/CT scan resulted in treatment change in 28.1% of the patients.
  • New treatment was initiated in 20.4% scan times,
  • The treatment was changed in 5.6% scan times and
  • The ongoing treatment was stopped in 2.1% scan times.

What is new about what this study reveals?

"Although the value of FDG PET/CT has been established in the follow-up of patients with lung cancer, this study specifically looks at the value of the fourth and subsequent follow-up PET/CT studies, which has not been addressed in any prior studies," states Rathan Subramaniam, MD, PhD, lead author of the study. "We now need to establish similar evidence for other human solid tumors," Subramaniam continues.


Source: Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
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