Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scans may be able to detect early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who are at high risk of treatment failure after stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). A retrospective study examined patients with early-stage NSCLC who were ineligible for or refused surgery and were instead treated with SBRT. Patients with lower FDG-PET readings prior to SBRT treatment survived longer, and those whose FDG-PET readings changed more after SBRT were less likely to experience treatment failure. FDG-PET scans may therefore help identify which patients are at lower or higher risk of recurrence; high-risk patients may opt for additional treatment and/or more frequent surveillance after treatment. FDG-PET has shown similar predictive value in early-stage NSCLC treated with surgery.
People with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are usually treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, radiation interferes with the standard method of scanning for lung abnormalities, computed tomography (CT), making its measurements difficult to interpret. This creates the risk that leftover tumor fragments or new cancer spread may be overlooked. A different imaging methodology, fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), may be more accurate in such patients. FDG-PET measures sucrose uptake into cells. High uptake values indicate highly active cells, suggesting the presence of cancerous tissue. In a recent clinical trial, higher standardized uptake values (SUVs) in FDG-PET scans predicted lower survival in people with stage III NSCLC who had received chemotherapy and radiotherapy, suggesting that the method accurately detected cancerous tissue.