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Cancer. 2012 Jun 15;118(12):3135-44. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26630. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

3'-deoxy-3'-[18F]fluorothymidine positron emission tomography for response assessment in soft tissue sarcoma: a pilot study to correlate imaging findings with tissue thymidine kinase 1 and Ki-67 activity and histopathologic response.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1782, USA.



This study sought to determine whether [(18)F]fluorothymidine (FLT) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) imaging allows assessment of tumor viability and proliferation in patients with soft tissue sarcomas who are treated with neoadjuvant therapy.


Twenty patients with biopsy-proven, resectable, high-grade soft tissue sarcoma underwent [(18)F]FLT PET/CT imaging before and after neoadjuvant therapy. Histologic subtypes included sarcomas not otherwise specified (n = 5), malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (n = 3), gastrointestinal stromal tumors (n = 3), leiomyosarcomas (n = 3), angiosarcomas (n = 2), and others (n = 4). Changes in [(18)F]FLT peak standardized uptake value (SUVpeak) were correlated with percent necrosis in excised tissue, whereas posttreatment [(18)F]FLT tumor uptake was correlated with thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) expression and Ki-67 staining indices in excised tumor tissue.


Tumor FLT SUVpeak averaged 7.1 ± 3.7 g/mL (range, 1.9-16.1 g/mL) at baseline and decreased significantly to 2.7 ± 1.6 g/mL (range, 0.8-6.0 g/mL) at follow-up (P < .001); however, marked reductions in SUV were not specific for histopathological response. The posttreatment SUVpeak did not correlate with TK1 (P = .27) or Ki-67 expression (P = .21).


Marked reductions in [(18)F]FLT tumor uptake in response to neoadjuvant treatment were observed in most patients with sarcoma. However, these reductions were not specific for histopathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy. Furthermore, posttreatment [(18)F]FLT tumor uptake was unrelated to tumor proliferation by Ki-67 and TK1 staining. These results question the value of [(18)F]FLT PET imaging for treatment response assessments in patients with soft tissue sarcoma.

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