Prognostic value of pretreatment 18F-FDG PET-CT for nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients

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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a special subtype of head and neck cancer (HNC). At present, there are no highly specific prognostic markers to aid in tumor grading and guide patient treatment modalities for NPC. The prognostic value of pretreatment 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (18F-PET-CT) in NPC patients is controversial and no consensus exists as to its predictive capability.


To analyze the predictive efficacy of 18F-PET-CT imaging in NPC patients, data from MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane library, CBM, CNKI, and VIP (inception to July 2016) were accessed. Results from prospective and retrospective observational studies that used 18F-FDG PET to predict disease prognosis in NPC patients were used for analysis. Two authors independently assessed study quality and extracted data. Event-free survival (EFS) was considered the primary endpoint and overall survival rate (OS) was considered the secondary endpoint.


Data from 14 studies and 1134 patients were included in our analysis. The hazard ratios (HRs) of maximum standardized uptake value of primary tumor (SUVmax-T), metabolic tumor volume of primary tumor (MTV-T), and total lesional glycolysis of primary tumor (TLG-T) for EFS were 1.31 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–1.55, P = .001), 2.38 (95% CI 1.53–3.70, P < .001), and 1.65 (95% CI 0.76–3.59, P = .21), respectively. Among studies including TLG-T, those with a fixed SUV of 2.5 had an HR of 3.55 (95% CI, 1.42–8.84, P  = .007). The HRs of SUVmax-T and MTV-T for OS were 2.19 (95% CI, 1.47–3.27, P < .001) and 2.69 (95% CI, 1.01–7.17, P  = .05), respectively. Among studies including MTV-T, those with a fixed SUV of 2.5 had an HR of 4.07 (95% CI, 2.22–7.46, P < .001). Tests used for assessing predictive value of pretreatment SUVmax, MTV, and TLG of lymph nodes for EFS and OS showed that these parameters did not have significant predictive value (P>.05).


Our results suggested that SUVmax, MTV, and TLG (with a fixed SUV of 2.5) of primary tumors before treatment initiation may be independent prognostic factors for NPC patients; however, SUVmax, MTV, and TLG of metastatic lymph nodes are not.

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