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Keywords:

  • nonsmall cell lung cancer;
  • TNM staging;
  • magnetic resonance imaging-positron emission tomography;
  • integrated positron emission tomography-computed tomography;
  • whole body imaging

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The objective of this study was to assess whether coregistered whole brain (WB) magnetic resonance imaging-positron emission tomography (MRI-PET) would increase the number of correctly upstaged patients compared with WB PET-computed tomography (PET-CT) plus dedicated brain MRI in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS:

From January 2010 through November 2011, patients with NSCLC who had resectable disease based on conventional staging were assigned randomly either to coregistered MRI-PET or WB PET-CT plus brain MRI (ClinicalTrials.gov trial NCT01065415). The primary endpoint was correct upstaging (the identification of lesions with higher tumor, lymph node, or metastasis classification, verified with biopsy or other diagnostic test) to have the advantage of avoiding unnecessary thoracotomy, to determine appropriate treatment, and to accurately predict patient prognosis. The secondary endpoints were over staging and under staging compared with pathologic staging.

RESULTS:

Lung cancer was correctly upstaged in 37 of 143 patients (25.9%) in the MRI-PET group and in 26 of 120 patients (21.7%) in the PET-CT plus brain MRI group (4.2% difference; 95% confidence interval, −6.1% to 14.5%; P = .426). Lung cancer was over staged in 26 of 143 patients (18.2%) in the MRI-PET group and in 7 of 120 patients (5.8%) in the PET-CT plus brain MRI group (12.4% difference; 95% confidence interval, 4.8%-20%; P = .003), whereas lung cancer was under staged in 18 of 143 patients (12.6%) and in 28 of 120 patients (23.3%), respectively (−10.7% difference; 95% confidence interval, −20.1% to −1.4%; P = .022).

CONCLUSIONS:

Although both staging tools allowed greater than 20% correct upstaging compared with conventional staging methods, coregistered MRI-PET did not appear to help identify significantly more correctly upstaged patients than PET-CT plus brain MRI in patients with NSCLC. Cancer 2013. © 2013 American Cancer Society.