Surveillance of clinically complete responders using serial 18F-FDG PET/CT scans in patients with esophageal cancer after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy

Maria J. Valkema*, Berend J. Van der Wilk, Ben M. Eyck, Bas P.L. Wijnhoven, Manon C.W. Spaander, Michail Doukas, Sjoerd M. Lagarde, Wendy M.J. Schreurs, Mark J. Roef, Jan van Lanschot, Roelf Valkema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Active surveillance for patients with esophageal cancer and a clinically complete response (cCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) is being studied. Active surveillance requires accurate clinical response evaluations. 18F-FDG PET/CT might be able to detect local tumor recurrence after nCRT as soon as the esophagus recovers from radiationinduced esophagitis. The aims of this study were to assess the value of serial 18F-FDG PET/CT scans for detecting local recurrence in patients beyond 3 mo after nCRT and to determine when radiation-induced esophagitis has resolved. Methods: This retrospectivemulticenter study included patients who had cCR after nCRT, who initially declined surgery, and who subsequently underwent active surveillance. Clinical response evaluations included 18F-FDG PET/CT, endoscopic biopsies, and endoscopic ultrasound with fine-needle aspiration at regular intervals. SUVmax normalized for lean body mass (SULmax) was measured at the primary tumor site. The percentage change in SULmax (D%SULmax) between the last follow-up scan and the scan at 3 mo after nCRT was calculated. Tumor recurrence was defined as biopsy-proven vital tumor at the initial tumor site. Results: Of 41 eligible patients, 24 patients had recurrent disease at a median of 6.5 mo after nCRT and 17 patients remained cancer free during a median follow-up of 24 mo after nCRT. Five of 24 patients with tumor recurrence had sudden intense SULmax increases of greater than 180%. In 19 of 24 patients with tumor recurrence, SULmax gradually increased (median D%SULmax, 118%), whereas SULmax decreased (median D%SULmax, -12%) in patients with ongoing cCR (P , 0.001, independent-samples t test). In patients with ongoing cCR, SULmax was lowest at 11 mo after nCRT. Conclusion: Serial 18F-FDG PET/CT might be a useful tool for detecting tumor recurrence during active surveillance. In patients with ongoing cCR, the lowest SULmax was reached at 11 mo after nCRT, suggesting that radiation-induced esophagitis had mostly resolved by that time. These findings warrant further evaluation in a larger cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-492
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The preSANO trial was funded by the Dutch Cancer Foundation (project no. EMCR-2014-7430). The SANO trial is currently funded by ZonMW (project no. 843004104) and the Dutch Cancer Foundation (project no. 10825). No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Society of Nuclear Medicine Inc.. All rights reserved.


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