FDG PET/CT patterns of treatment failure of malignant pleural mesothelioma: relationship to histologic type, treatment algorithm, and survival

  • Victor H. GerbaudoEmail author
  • Marcelo Mamede
  • Beatrice Trotman-Dickenson
  • Hiroto Hatabu
  • David J. Sugarbaker
Original Article



This study investigated the diagnostic performance and prognostic value of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT in suspected malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) recurrence, in the context of patterns and intensity of FDG uptake, histologic type, and treatment algorithm.


Fifty patients with MPM underwent FDG PET/CT for restaging 11 ± 6 months after therapy. Tumor relapse was confirmed by histopathology, and by clinical evolution and subsequent imaging. Progression-free survival was defined as the time between treatment and the earliest clinical evidence of recurrence. Survival after FDG PET/CT was defined as the time between the scan and death or last follow-up. Overall survival was defined as the time between initial treatment and death or last follow-up date.


Treatment failure was confirmed in 42 patients (30 epithelial and 12 non-epithelial MPM). Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value for FDG PET/CT were 97.6, 75, 94, 86, and 95.3%, respectively. FDG PET/CT evidence of single site of recurrence was observed in the ipsilateral hemithorax in 18 patients (44%), contralaterally in 2 (5%), and in the abdomen in 1 patient (2%). Bilateral thoracic relapse was detected in three patients (7%). Simultaneous recurrence in the ipsilateral hemithorax and abdomen was observed in ten (24%) patients and in seven (17%) in all three cavities. Unsuspected distant metastases were detected in 11 patients (26%). Four patterns of uptake were observed in recurrent disease: focal, linear, mixed (focal/linear), and encasing, with a significant difference between the intensity of uptake in malignant lesions compared to benign post-therapeutic changes. Lesion uptake was lower in patients previously treated with more aggressive therapy and higher in intrathoracic lesions of patients with distant metastases. FDG PET/CT helped in the selection of 12 patients (29%) who benefited from additional previously unplanned treatment at the time of failure. Multivariate analysis showed that histologic type remained the only independent predictor of progression-free survival. Survival after relapse was independently predicted by the pattern of FDG uptake and PET nodal status, and overall survival by the maximum standard uptake value.


FDG PET/CT is an accurate modality to diagnose and to estimate the extent of locoregional and distant MPM recurrence, and it carries independent prognostic value. Once the disease recurs, survival outcomes seem to be independent of histologic type and highly dependent on the intensity of lesion uptake and on the pattern of metabolically active disease in FDG PET/CT. Our observations should be considered limited to patients treated surgically with or without perioperative therapies and should not be extrapolated to those unresectable cases treated with chemotherapy alone.


FDG FDG PET/CT Mesothelioma Lung cancer Response to treatment Recurrence Survival 



Supported by a grant from the International Mesothelioma Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor H. Gerbaudo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcelo Mamede
    • 1
  • Beatrice Trotman-Dickenson
    • 2
  • Hiroto Hatabu
    • 2
  • David J. Sugarbaker
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular ImagingBrigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Thoracic RadiologyBrigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Thoracic SurgeryBrigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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