© 2016 The Author(s). Background: Staging of mediastinal lymph nodes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is mandatory. The maximum Standard Uptake Value (SUVmax) obtained using F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) is the best non-invasive technique available for this evaluation, but its performance varies from center to center. The aim of the present study was to identify FDG-PET predictors of mediastinal malignancy that are able to minimize intercenter variability and improve the selection of subsequent staging procedures. Method: A multicenter study of NSCLC patients staged through FDG-PET and endobronchial ultrasonography with needle aspiration (EBUS-NA) was performed using therapeutic surgery with systematic nodal dissection as gold standard. Intercenter variability and predictive power for mediastinal malignancy of different FDG-PET measures were assessed, as well as the role of these measures for selecting additional staging procedures. Results: One hundred and twenty-one NSCLC patients, of whom 94 (72%) had ≥1 hypermetabolic spots in the mediastinum, were included in the study. Mean SUVmax of the primary tumor was 12.3 (SD 6.3), and median SUVmax of the highest hypermetabolic spots in the mediastinum was 3.9 (IQR 2.4-7). Variability of FDG-PET measures between hospitals was statistically significant (p = 0.016 and p < 0.001 respectively), but lost significance when SUVmax in the mediastinum was expressed as a ratio or a subtraction from the primary tumor (SUVmax mediastinum/tumor, p = 0.083; and SUVmax mediastinum - tumor, p = 0.428 respectively). SUVmax mediastinum/tumor showed higher accuracy in the ROC analysis (AUC 0.77 CI 0.68-0.85, p < 0.001), and showed predictive power for mediastinal malignancy when using a 0.4 cutoff (OR 6.62, 95%CI 2.98-14.69). Sensitivities and negative predictive values of clinical staging through EBUS-NA attained values ranging between 57% and 92% after FDG-PET, which improved with additional techniques when the tumor had a diameter >3 cm and/or a SUVmax mediastinum/tumor ratio >0.4. Conclusion: The SUVmax mediastinum/tumor ratio is a good predictor of regional tumor extension in NSCLC. This measure is not influenced by intercenter variability and has an accuracy of over 70% for the identification of malignancy when using a 0.4 cutoff.
- Endobronchial ultrasonography with needle aspiration
- F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography
- Lung cancer