PET/CT, tumor markers combo shows potential to improve lung cancer diagnoses

When evaluating histological types of lung cancer, a combination of SUVmax and serum tumor markers can significantly improve diagnostic accuracy, according to a new study.

This development may improve treatment of patients with suspicious lung cancers, especially in advanced cases. The new findings also hold promise for development of a noninvasive method of accurately determining the type of lung lesions.

The research was published online Sept. 6 on PLOS One.

“Although SUVmax and serum tumor markers show value in evaluating the histological types of suspicious lung cancer, the role of SUVmax in evaluating other histological types of lung cancer, such as small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and large-cell carcinoma, is still unclear,” wrote Rifeng Jiang, with the department of radiology at Tongji Hospital, and colleagues.

Furthermore, the researchers said the accuracy of the two methods individually is insufficient. Prior to the new study being done, it was unclear whether a combination of the two methods would lead to better diagnoses.  

“[T]he purpose of this study was to analyze these clinical and imaging parameters in suspicious lung cancers and to evaluate whether they can help predict the histological types,” they wrote. “The diagnostic efficiencies in evaluating histological types of suspicious lung cancers were insufficient when using each serum tumor marker or SUVmax alone.”

When combined, the area-under-the-curve, sensitivity and specificity of the evaluations of histological types of lung lesions were markedly increased.

The authors maintain that, although theirs was a small study, its results can be used clinically.