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PET-detected asymptomatic recurrence is associated with improved survival in recurrent cervical cancer

Abstract

Purpose

We aimed to examine utilization patterns of positron emission tomography scans (PET or PET/CT) beyond 6 months after cervical cancer treatment. We investigated survival outcomes of asymptomatic patients with PET-detected recurrence.

Methods

We performed a retrospective review of 283 patients with stage IA-IVA cervical cancer treated with primary chemoradiation. The 107 patients (37.8%) with recurrence were categorized as “asymptomatic PET-detected recurrence” (n = 23) or “standard detection” (n = 84) and we compared clinical characteristics and outcomes using multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results

Late post-treatment PET (≥ 6 months after treatment) was performed in 35.3% (n = 100). Indications for late post-treatment PET included restaging in setting of known recurrence (23.6%), follow up of prior ambiguous imaging findings (9.7%), and new symptoms or exam findings (6.7%). However, late post-treatment PET was most commonly performed outside of current imaging guidelines, in asymptomatic patients without suspicion for recurrence (60.0%), presumably for surveillance. The median time to recurrence was 12.1 months (IQR 7.3–26.6). 23 patients (21.5%) had recurrence detected late post-treatment PET while asymptomatic (n = 23/107). Patients with asymptomatic PET-detected recurrence had improved survival by 26.3 months compared to the standard detection cohort (50.3 vs 24.0 months, p = 0.0015). On multivariate analysis, predictors of survival after recurrence were presence of distant metastases at diagnosis (p = 0.010) and asymptomatic PET-detected recurrence (p = 0.039).

Conclusions

PET imaging in asymptomatic patients beyond 6 months after treatment may have clinical benefit and warrants further study. Detection of recurrence by PET in asymptomatic patients ≥ 6 months after chemoradiation was associated with prolonged survival by more than   2 years.

Graphic abstract

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Correspondence to Pamela N. Peters.

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Peters, P.N., Pierson, W.E., Chen, Lm. et al. PET-detected asymptomatic recurrence is associated with improved survival in recurrent cervical cancer. Abdom Radiol 46, 341–350 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00261-020-02633-0

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Keywords

  • Cervical cancer
  • PET
  • Surveillance
  • Chemoradiation
  • Asymptomatic recurrence