18F-FDG-PET detects complete response to PD1-therapy in melanoma patients two weeks after therapy start

  • Ferdinand SeithEmail author
  • Andrea Forschner
  • Holger Schmidt
  • Christina Pfannenberg
  • Brigitte Gückel
  • Konstantin Nikolaou
  • Christian la Fougère
  • Claus Garbe
  • Nina Schwenzer
Short Communication



The aim of the study was to evaluate if 18F-FDG-PET has the potential to detect complete responders to PD1-therapy in patients with unresectable metastasized melanoma two weeks after therapy initiation.


Between September 2014 and May 2016, ten patients (four females; 65 ± 12 y) received a whole-body 18F-FDG-PET/MRI examination at three time points: Before therapy start (t0, base-line), two weeks (t1, study examination) and three months after treatment initiation (t2, reference standard). Therapy response was assessed with PET response criteria in solid tumors (PERCIST). Time to progression and overall survival (OS) were obtained for all patients.


Three patients with partial metabolic response in PET at t1 turned out to have complete response at t2. No tumor relapse was observed in those patients so far (observation period: 265, 511 and 728 days, respectively). At t2, progressive metabolic disease (PMD) was seen in six patients from whom four showed PMD and two showed stable metabolic disease (SMD) at t1. OS in patients with PMD at t2 varied between 148 and 814 days. SMD at both t1 and t2 was seen in one patient, tumor progress was observed after 308 days.


Our study indicates that whole-body 18F-FDG-PET might be able to reliably identify complete responders to PD1-therapy as early as two weeks after therapy initiation in stage IV melanoma patients. This might help to shorten therapy regimes and avoid unnecessary side effects in the future.


18F-FDG-PET Melanoma Immunotherapy Early response assessment 



We wish to cordially thank all patients who agreed to participate in this study.

We thank Carsten Groeper, Gerd Zeger and Henriette Heners for the acquisition of images and the friendly care of patients.


The study was funded by the Wilhelm Sander Foundation (Wilhelm Sander-Stiftung, Goethestraße 74, 80,336 Munich, Germany).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the local ethics committee of the University of Tuebingen (code: 251/2012BO1).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ferdinand Seith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Forschner
    • 2
  • Holger Schmidt
    • 1
  • Christina Pfannenberg
    • 1
  • Brigitte Gückel
    • 1
  • Konstantin Nikolaou
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christian la Fougère
    • 3
    • 4
  • Claus Garbe
    • 2
  • Nina Schwenzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Department of RadiologyEberhard Karls UniversityTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyEberhard Karls UniversityTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.German Cancer Consortium (DKTK)HeidelbergGermany
  4. 4.Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging, Department of RadiologyEberhard Karls UniversityTuebingenGermany

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