The role of positron emission tomography in evaluating mediastinal lymph node metastases in non-small-cell lung cancer

J. D. Luketich, D. M. Friedman, C. C. Meltzer, C. P. Belani, D. W. Townsend, N. A. Christie, T. L. Weigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a modality that differentiates malignant from benign processes based upon metabolism rather than anatomy. A number of studies have confirmed improved accuracy of PET over computed tomography (CT), but until a few recent studies, most had failed to include satisfactory histologic confirmation. The objective of this study was to compare PET and CT to histologic staging of the mediastinum in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Histologic examination of mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs) was performed on 40 patients with NSCLC at mediastinoscopy and/or at surgical resection. PET scans were interpreted by one of two nuclear medicine physicians, blinded to histology, using CT scans for anatomic localization. CT scans were independently evaluated for mediastinal lymphadenopathy. The overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of PET were 78% (31 of 40), 67% (four of six), and 79% (27 of 34), respectively. The overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of CT were 68% (27 of 40), 50% (three of six), and 71% (24 of 34), respectively. PET was superior to CT at correctly identifying mediastinal nodal metastases; however, both modalities were inferior to the gold standard of surgical staging. PET is more accurate than CT in staging the mediastinum of patients with NSCLC. PET failed to identify lymph node metastasis in 33% of patients with histologically proven MLN involvement, and false positives were present in 15%. At present, mediastinoscopy should remain the standard of care for preoperative mediastinal staging for NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-233
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Lung Cancer
Volume2
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research

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