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