PET/CT surveillance detects asymptomatic recurrences in stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma patients: a prospective cohort study

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AJCC stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma patients are at risk for disease relapse or progression. The advent of effective systemic therapies has made curative treatment of progressive disease a possibility. As resection of oligometastatic disease can confer a survival benefit and as immunotherapy is possibly most effective in a low tumor load setting, there is a likely benefit to early detection of progression. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate a PET/computed tomography (CT) surveillance schedule for resected stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma. From 1–2015, stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma patients at our institution underwent 6-monthly surveillance with PET/CT, together with 3-monthly S100B assessment. When symptoms or elevated S100B were detected, an additional PET/CT was performed. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate outcomes for this surveillance schedule. Fifty-one patients were followed up, 27 patients developed a recurrence before surveillance imaging, five were detected by an elevated S100B, and one patient was not scanned according to protocol. Eighteen patients were included. Thirty-two scans were acquired. Eleven relapses were suspected on PET/CT. Ten scans were true positive, one case was false positive, and one case was false negative. All recurrences detected by PET/CT were asymptomatic at that time, with a normal range of S100B. The number of scans needed to find one asymptomatic relapse was 3.6. PET/CT surveillance imaging seems to be an effective strategy for detecting asymptomatic recurrence in stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma patients in the first year after complete surgical resection.

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