Predictive factors of [11C]choline PET/CT in patients with biochemical failure after radical prostatectomy

  • Giampiero Giovacchini
  • Maria Picchio
  • Elisa Coradeschi
  • Valentino Bettinardi
  • Luigi Gianolli
  • Vincenzo Scattoni
  • Cesare Cozzarini
  • Nadia Di Muzio
  • Patrizio Rigatti
  • Ferruccio Fazio
  • Cristina Messa
Original Article



Detection of recurrence in prostate cancer patients with biochemical failure after radical prostatectomy by [11C]choline PET/CT depends on the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. The role of other clinical and pathological variables has not been explored.


A total of 2,124 prostate cancer patients referred to our Institution for [11C]choline PET/CT from December 2004 to January 2007 for restaging of disease were retrospectively considered for this study. Inclusion criteria were: previous treatment by radical prostatectomy, and biochemical failure, defined as at least two consecutive PSA measurements of >0.2 ng/ml. These criteria were met for 358 patients. Binary logistic analysis was used to investigate the predictive factors of [11C]choline PET/CT. PET/CT findings were validated using criteria based on histological analysis, and follow-up clinical and imaging data. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to assess the performance of [11C]choline PET/CT in relation to PSA levels.


The mean PSA level was 3.77 ± 6.94 ng/ml (range 0.23–45 ng/ml; median 1.27 ng/ml). PET/CT was positive for recurrence in 161 of 358 patients (45%). On an anatomical region basis, [11C]choline pathological uptake was observed in lymph nodes (107/161 patients, 66%), prostatectomy bed (55/161 patients, 34%), and in the skeleton (46/161 patients, 29%). PET/CT findings were validated using histological criteria (46/358, 13%), and follow-up clinical and imaging criteria (312/358, 87%). Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and overall accuracy were, respectively, 85%, 93%, 91%, 87%, and 89%. In multivariate analysis, high PSA levels, advanced pathological stage, previous biochemical failure and older age were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with an increased risk of positive PET/CT findings. The percentage of positive scans was 19% in those with a PSA level between 0.2 and 1 ng/ml, 46% in those with a PSA level between 1 and 3 ng/ml, and 82% in those with a PSA level higher than 3 ng/ml. ROC analysis showed that PET/CT-positive and PET/CT-negative patients could be best distinguished using a PSA cut-off value of 1.4 ng/ml.


In addition to PSA levels, pathological stage, previous biochemical failure and age should be considered by physicians when referring prostate cancer patients with biochemical failure after radical prostatectomy to [11C]choline PET/CT.


[11C]Choline PET/CT Prostate cancer Biochemical failure Predictive factors 



The authors would like to acknowledge Elisabetta Vassenna for helping in data collection and all staff physicians of the Nuclear Medicine Department for contributing to the performance of the [11C]choline PET/CT scans.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giampiero Giovacchini
    • 1
  • Maria Picchio
    • 2
  • Elisa Coradeschi
    • 1
  • Valentino Bettinardi
    • 2
  • Luigi Gianolli
    • 2
  • Vincenzo Scattoni
    • 3
  • Cesare Cozzarini
    • 4
  • Nadia Di Muzio
    • 4
  • Patrizio Rigatti
    • 3
  • Ferruccio Fazio
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Cristina Messa
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Molecular BioimagingUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear MedicineScientific Institute San RaffaeleMilanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of UrologyScientific Institute San RaffaeleMilanoItaly
  4. 4.Department of Radiation OncologyScientific Institute San RaffaeleMilanoItaly
  5. 5.Institute for Bioimaging and Molecular PhysiologyNational Research CouncilMilanoItaly
  6. 6.Department of Nuclear MedicineHospital San GerardoMonzaItaly

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