The aims of this study were to determine the role of 18F-FDG PET/CT in vulvar cancer patients and to extract summary estimates of its diagnostic performance for preoperative lymph node staging.
Patients and Methods
PubMed/Medline and Embase databases were searched to identify studies evaluating 18F-FDG PET/CT in vulvar cancer patients. The assessment of methodological quality of the included articles was performed. Per-patient and per-groin pooled estimates, with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), of sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV), and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) were calculated.
Ten articles were included in the systematic review, 7 among which evaluated the diagnostic performance of preoperative 18F-FDG PET/CT for lymph node staging. Qualitative per-patient analysis (72 patients from 4 studies) resulted in estimated pooled sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and DOR of 0.70 (95% CI, 0.44–0.95), 0.90 (95% CI, 0.76–1.04), 0.86 (95% CI, 0.66–1.06), 0.77 (95% CI, 0.56–0.97), and 10.49 (95% CI, 1.68–65.50), respectively. Qualitative per-groin analysis (245 groins from 5 studies) resulted in estimated pooled sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and DOR of 0.76 (95% CI, 0.57–0.94), 0.88 (95% CI, 0.82–0.94), 0.70 (95% CI, 0.55–0.85), 0.92 (95% CI, 0.86–0.97), and 19.43 (95% CI, 6.40–58.95), respectively.
Despite limited literature data, this systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that a negative preoperative PET/CT scan may exclude groin metastases in at least early-stage vulvar cancer patients currently unfit for sentinel node biopsy and select those eligible for a less invasive surgical treatment. A positive PET/CT result should otherwise be interpreted with caution. Larger prospective studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate the diagnostic value of standardized semiquantitative analysis compared with the qualitative one.