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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012 Nov;15(5):859-64. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivs368. Epub 2012 Aug 21.

18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography is useful in postoperative follow-up of asymptomatic non-small-cell lung cancer patients.

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Department of Thoracic and Endocrine Surgery and Oncology, Institute of Health Biosciences, The University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima, Japan.



Postoperative follow-up and surveillance after curative resection for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients are generally performed. However, there is no consensus on the best programme at this time. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic capability of (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in postoperative NSCLC patients without clinical and radiological evidence of recurrence, as a follow-up and surveillance programme.


Between January 2005 and April 2010, a total of 101 NSCLC patients underwent potentially curative operations and follow-up FDG-PET/CT was performed in patients without clinical and radiological evidence of recurrence at least once a year in principle. A total of 233 FDG-PET/CT studies were entered and retrospectively reviewed.


Eighteen (18%) asymptomatic patients had recurrent diseases and 22 recurrent sites were confirmed. Of 22 recurrent sites, recurrence was diagnosed by histological examination in 9 (41%) sites and by imaging examination in 13 (59%) sites. FDG-PET/CT correctly diagnosed recurrence in 17 of the 18 (94%) patients and 21 of the 22 (95%) recurrent sites. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value and accuracy were 94.4, 97.6, 89.5, 98.8 and 97.0%, respectively. On the other hand, in 3 patients, other diseases were detected and treated appropriately. Post-recurrence therapies were performed in all patients with recurrence, but 4 (22%) patients died of the original diseases. The median post-recurrence survival was 25.2 months, and the 1- and 2-year post-recurrence survival rates were 83.3 and 69.6%, respectively.


FDG-PET/CT is a useful tool that has high capability to detect recurrences in asymptomatic NSCLC patients after a potentially curative operation. However, a large-scale multi-institutional randomized control trial may be needed to ascertain the benefit of surveillance with FDG-PET/CT.

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