OBJECTIVE: We assessed the prognostic value of several FDG PET/CT parameters, measured within the primary tumor and the involved lymph nodes, before definitive radio-chemotherapy (RCT) in anal cancer patients.
METHODS: Anal cancer patients with positive baseline FDG PET/CT who underwent definitive RCT from May 2011 to February 2018 were retrospectively assessed. Primary tumour (T)-SUVmax, T-SUVpeak, T-SUVmean, T-MTV, T-TLG, whole-body (WB) MTV, and WB-TLG were measured. Kaplan-Meier curves, Cox-regression analysis, and logistic regression machine-learning technique were used to test for associations between clinical data, metabolic parameters, and outcomes as overall survival (OS), disease-specific survival (DSS), metastatic-free survival (MFS), disease-free survival (DFS), local relapse-free survival (LRFS), and colostomy-free survival (CFS).
RESULTS: Fifty-nine patients were included in the study. Median follow-up was 28 months. Higher pre-treatment WB-MTV, T-TLG, and WB-TLG were associated with worse OS (p = 0.025, 0.021, and 0.02, respectively). PET parameters resulted also statistically significant for DSS, DFS, and CFS (p = 0.032, 0.043, 9 × 10-4 for WB-TLG). Cox analysis showed that PET parameters are significant predictors of OS, DSS, DFS, CFS, and LRFS. On multivariate analysis, age, stage, T-SUVpeak, WB-MTV, and T-TLG resulted significantly related to OS. A further stratification for patients with advanced stage (cT3-4 any N or any cT, N + ) showed that MTV and TLG, measured within the primary tumor and the involved nodes, are significantly higher in patients with a worse prognosis. In this subgroup, cut-off values of T- and WB-TLG as well as T- and WB-MTV showed a statistically significant correlation with clinical outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Pre-treatment metabolic parameters measured within the primary tumor and the involved nodes may represent additional new biomarkers for estimating prognosis in anal cancer patients, especially in advanced stage patients.