Role of 18F-FLT PET/CT in suspected recurrent or residual lymphoma: final results of a pilot prospective trial.


Nuclear Medicine, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Policlinico S.Orsola-Malpighi, Via Albertoni 15, 40138, Bologna (BO), Italy. [Email]


OBJECTIVE : To evaluate the role of F-18-Fluorothymidine (FLT) PET/CT in lymphoma patients with suspected recurrent or residual disease.
METHODS : Adult lymphoma patients presenting with positive or equivocal F-18-FDG PET/CT at end-treatment or follow-up were prospectively addressed to an additional F-18-FLT-PET/CT. SUV max and tumour-to-background ratios (TBRs) were recorded for the most avid lesion. Biopsy or, when not available, clinical or imaging assessment were employed as standard of reference.
RESULTS : Overall 52 patients were recruited. Histology was available in 20/52 patients (38%), proliferation-index (Ki-67) in 14/20. Disease was excluded in 13/52 patients (25%) (one reactive follicular hyperplasia, five reactive-inflammatory tissues, four reactive nodes, two nodal sarcoid-like and one non-specific peri-caecal finding). FDG and FLT scans were concordant in disease restaging in 34/52 patients (65%), whereas in 18/52 cases (35%) relevant discrepancies were recorded. SUV max and TBR were significantly higher in the disease versus the disease-free group, with both tracers (p = 0.0231 and 0.0219 for FDG; p = 0.0008 and 0.0016 for FLT). FLT-SUVmax demonstrated slightly better performance in discriminating benign from malignant lesions (ROC-AUC: 0.8116 and 0.7949 for FLT-SUV max and TBR; 0.7120 and 0.7140 for FDG). Optimal FLT-SUV max cut-offs were searched: three would lead to 95% sensitivity, 81% accuracy, and 39% specificity, whereas seven led to 100%, 41%, and 56% respectively. No statistically significant correlation was observed between the two FLT indices and Ki-67.
CONCLUSIONS : According to our results in a clinical setting of recurrent or residual lymphoma, FLT is not significantly superior to FDG and it is unlikely that it will be employed independently. FLT may be restricted to a few specific cases, as complementary to standard FDG imaging, to confirm a diagnosis or to define a better target to biopsy. However, due to FLT suboptimal performance, many findings would remain inconclusive, requiring further diagnostic procedures and reducing the effectiveness of performing an additional FLT scan.


F-18-FDG,F-18-FLT,Lymphoma,Positron emission tomography,Relapse,