Objectives: The objective of this study was to identify predictive factors of occult mediastinal nodal involvement on staging positron emission tomography with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose in patients with non–small cell lung cancer.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 665 patients with suspected non–small cell lung cancer who underwent staging positron emission tomography with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose from January 1, 2000 through August 31, 2010 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with clinical stage I or II disease and no evidence of N2 or N3 involvement on staging positron emission tomography (PET). A total of 201 of these patients underwent invasive pathologic staging of the mediastinum at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with pathology reports available at the time of review.
Results: A total of 63 of the 201 patients were found to have N2 disease at the time of pathologic staging. The mean standardized uptake value (SUV) of the primary tumor for patients with occult N2 metastases was significantly higher than the node-negative patients (SUV 9.31 vs. 7.24, P=0.04). Histology, tumor location (central vs. peripheral), sex, and age were not predictive for occult N2 disease. A multivariate analysis was performed and identified primary tumor SUV>6 was the only significant predictor (P=0.02). An analysis by quartile identified a primary tumor SUV>10 to have an odds ratio of 1.72 compared with an SUV<4 of occult N2 involvement.
Conclusions: Increased primary tumor SUV predicted for increased risk of mediastinal nodal disease. Tumor location was not predictive of PET-occult mediastinal nodal involvement, in contrast to previous publications. Pathologic staging of the mediastinum should be strongly considered in these patients even with a negative mediastinum on PET.