BACKGROUND - The current study was performed to assess the value of 2-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in predicting the pathologic response and survival of patients with esophageal carcinoma treated with preoperative chemoradiation (CRT) and tumor resection. Preliminary reports suggest that FDG-PET may be predictive of the response of esophageal carcinoma patients to preoperative CRT.
METHODS - Eighty-three patients with resectable esophageal carcinoma who underwent preoperative CRT and FDG-PET and tumor resection were evaluated for pathologic response to CRT, percent residual tumor, and survival.
RESULTS - The majority of patients in the current study were men (74 of 83 patients; 89%). Most tumors were adenocarcinomas (73 of 83 tumors; 88%) and clinical (EUS)T3/4 (69 tumors; 83%) or N1 (46 tumors; 55%). FDG-PET after preoperative CRT identified pathologic responders but failed to rule out microscopic residual tumor in 13 of 73 cases (18%). Pathologic response was found to correlate with the post-CRT FDG-PET standardized uptake value (SUV) (P = 0.03) and a post-CRT FDG-PET SUV of or 4 was found to be the only preoperative factor to correlate with decreased survival (2-year survival rate of 33% vs. 60%; P = 0.01). On univariate Cox regression analysis, only post-CRT FDG-PET was found to be correlated with post-CRT survival (P = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS - Post-CRT FDG-PET was found to be predictive of pathologic response and survival in patients with esophageal carcinoma who undergo preoperative CRT. Esophagectomy should still be considered even if the post-CRT FDG-PET scan is normal because microscopic residual disease cannot be ruled out.