Prognostic role of FDG PET/CT in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer treated with 131-iodine empiric therapy

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To assess the long-term prognostic value of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) undergoing empiric radioiodine (RAI) therapy due to raising values of thyroglobulin (Tg).


Forty-nine patients with histological diagnosis of DTC (31 with papillary and 18 with follicular carcinoma) follow-up for a mean period of 7.9 ± 5 years after empiric RAI therapy were retrospectively analyzed.


FDG-PET/CT was negative in 15 (30.6%) patients and positive in 34 (69.4%), whereas postradioiodine therapy whole body scan (t-WBS) was negative in 16 (32.7%) and positive in 33 (67.3%) patients. FDG-PET/CT and t-WBS were in agreement in 32 patients (7 both negative and 25 both positive); on the contrary, in 17 patients there was disagreement between FDG-PET/CT and t-WBS (P  =ns). At short-term follow-up, Tg normalized in 19 (38.8%) patients and was unchanged or increased in 30 (61.2%). Of the 15 patients with negative FDG-PET/CT, 11 (73.3%) showed Tg normalization, whereas of the 34 patients with positive FDG-PET/CT, only 8 (23.5%) had Tg normalization (χ2 =8.9, P < .005). At multivariate analysis, FDG-PET/CT and Tg normalization at short-term follow-up were independent predictors of disease-free survival (χ2 =26.3, P < .0001), while Tg normalization was the only variable associated with overall survival χ2 =7.2, P < .01).


FDG-PET/CT in association with Tg normalization at short-term follow-up may be useful for long-term prognostic stratification in DTC patients.

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