05/02/2008

WVU researchers prove accuracy of PET in determining stages of small cell lung cancer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is effective in determining progression of small cell lung cancer, a West Virginia University study shows.

Researchers at WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center analyzed results for 137 patients, 51 of whom received a CT scan and a PET scan during their initial evaluations.  The study evaluated the accuracy of PET compared with conventional CT imaging.

“These findings point to important implications for using PET as a staging tool for small cell lung cancer,” John Rogers, M.D., professor of hematology/oncology at WVU and principal investigator of the study, said.  “It’s important that the extent of the disease is accurately detected because accurate staging leads to appropriate treatment and better results for patients.”

The WVU study is one of only a few examining the role of PET in staging small cell lung cancer – even though the imaging tool is widely used in non-small cell lung cancer.

Scans to determine staging look for limited disease (where cancer can be seen in only one lung) or extensive disease (where cancer has spread outside the lung to the chest or to other parts of the body). 

 “All 51 patients’ PET scans proved positive for malignancy, meaning that PET is very sensitive for detecting small cell lung cancer,” Rogers said.  “This study further shows that PET enhances the accuracy of predicting stages of small cell lung cancer compared with CT alone.”

A CT scan shows anatomical structures such as organs and bones.  A PET scan indicates metabolic or chemical changes.   Studies show that small cell lung cancer is a metabolically active tumor.

The study involved CT and PET scan results that were compared at diagnosis and throughout treatment.  Researchers studied post-treatment image scans as well to evaluate any discrepancies with the earlier scans.

In most cases, PET staging correlated with CT findings.  Additionally, PET accurately detected more advanced disease in two of the 51 patients and less extensive disease in six of the patients.  In 13 patients who received PET scans, additional disease sites were detected.

PET scans resulted in altered treatment regimens for some patients.  If decisions had been based solely on CT scans, some patients would have been denied treatments, or given unnecessary treatments.

WVU researchers predict that combined PET/CT imaging will become the standard of care in the management of patients with small cell lung cancer.

Their research was published in Clinical Lung Cancer, January 2008.  Co-authors include Mridula Vinjamuri, M.D., Mohammed Almubarak, M.D., and Michael Craig, M.D., Hematology-Oncology at WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; Annette Campbell-Fontaine, M.D., at New Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Naresh Gupta, M.D., at Frederick and Hagerstown Imaging Centers, Frederick, Maryland.                                                

- WVU -


08-074
For more information:
Sherry Stoneking, MBRCC, (304) 293-4599
sstoneking@rcb.hsc.edu
sls: 05-02-08

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