SNMMI: Follow-up PET/CT adds value in non-Hodgkin lymphoma management

Post-treatment PET/CT can help diagnose relapses of aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) cases and spur additional treatment, according to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2015 annual meeting in Baltimore.

Anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of NHL patients who have been treated successfully with frontline chemotherapy will relapse within three years. Mehdi Taghipour, MD, a research fellow from the department of radiology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, and colleagues, sought to evaluate the value of follow up PET/CT to detect recurrence and potentially trigger initiation of life-saving salvage chemotherapy.

A total of 560 PET/CT scans from 204 patients were included in the study, with all scans performed at least six months after completion of primary therapy. Results showed the sensitivity of PET/CT for detecting a NHL relapse was 95.1 percent, with a specificity of 90.5 percent. Overall accuracy of follow-up PET/CT using FDG was 92.1 percent.

Patient management was changed after 17 percent of the follow up scans, with new treatments started for 15.7 percent of patients. Roughly 70 percent of the scans were done routinely and the rest were performed due to suspicion of recurrence. Follow up PET/CT indicated disease in 22 percent of routine scans when there was no clinical suspicion of recurrence, while presence of disease was ruled out in 17.4 percent of those scans with prior clinical suspicion.

“Our study proves that 39 percent of follow-up PET/CT scans added clinical value, which represents a significant improvement in NHL patient care,” said Taghipour in a press release.