Predictive Role of the Number of 18F-FDG-Positive Lymph Nodes Detected by PET/CT for Pre-Treatment Evaluation of Locally Advanced Gastric Cancer

Objectives

The aim of this study was to investigate the predictive value of the numbers of metabolically positive lymph nodes (MPLN) detected by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) in patients with locally advanced gastric cancer (LAGC).

Methods

We retrospectively analyzed the records of 50 patients with LAGC (stage T2-T4) who had undergone pre-operative PET/CT examination and laparotomy (total gastrectomy, n = 11; subtotal gastrectomy, n = 13; distal gastrectomy, n = 22; and bypass with gastrojejunstomy, n = 4). The numbers of MPLN were determined by combining visual observations with semi-quantitative measurements of the maximized standardized uptake value (SUVmax). Performance was investigated in terms of predicting post-surgical overall survival (OS).

Results

The median post-surgical OS was 32.57 months (range 3.0-94 months). The numbers of MPLN were moderately correlated with the numbers of histological positive LN (r = 0.694, p = 0.001). In univariate analyses, the numbers of MPLN (≤ 2 vs. ≥3), PET/CT LN (positivity vs. negativity), SUVmax of LN (< 2.8 vs. ≥ 2.8), TNM stage (I, II vs. III, IV), and surgery type (R0 vs. non-R0) were significantly associated with OS. In multivariate analysis, surgery type (R0 vs. non-R0) and numbers of MPLN (≤ 2 vs. ≥ 3) were both independent factors for poor OS.

Conclusions

This explored study indicates that the number of MPLN could provide additional information for LAGC prognosis. Patients with MPLNs ≥ 3 may be at the risk of the more bad outcomes, and the further clinical trials are needed.