PET with CT twice as likely to change cervical cancer treatment plans

Using PET imaging in addition to conventional CT imaging for women with locally advanced cervical cancer may identify more detailed malignancies and change treatment plans, according to research published online Sept. 14 in JAMA Network Open.  

The researchers found that both modalities led to more extensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but the difference was not significant due to the study being “underpowered," according to the researchers.  

“We met our goal of determining whether adding PET detects more extensive disease and influences treatment. The study showed that patients who had PET were twice as likely to have a change in their treatment,” said co-authors Anthony Fyles, MD, MSc, a radiation oncologist at Princess Margert Cancer Center in Toronto, and Lorraine Elit, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Center in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in a prepared statement.  

The study enrolled 171 women over the age of 18 who were newly diagnosed with cervical cancer. The women were then split into two cohorts: 58 received a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis and 112 received a CT and PET scan in the same region that could detect additional cancerous cell activity. However, a low recruitment rate stopped the study however its results still demonstrated that PET imaging in addition to CT scans could impact cervical cancer treatment.  

“Although our trial was underpowered, it is reasonable to consider the results within the context of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommendations that are based on observational data,” Elit at al. wrote. “Our results provide higher-quality evidence to support current practice. Finally, a prudent and efficient approach might be to consider PET-CT only for patients with abnormal pelvic nodes on CT.”