The Role of PET and PET-CT Scanning in Assessing Response to Neoadjuvant Therapy in Esophageal Carcinoma A Systematic Review

Milly Schroeer-Guenther*, Fueloep Scheibler, Robert Wolff, Marie Westwood, Brigitta Baumert, Stefan Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The response to neoadjuvant (radio-) chemotherapy for esophageal carcinoma is often assessed with the aid of positron-emission tomography (PET), either alone or in combination with computed tomography (PET-CT). In this review, we discuss the diagnostic validity and clinical benefit of these imaging techniques. Methods: We systematically searched the Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) comparing PET-CT with conventional techniques such as endo sonography and CT. We then determined the diagnostic validity of these methods on the basis of information from published systematic reviews, updated with further information from more recent primary studies. Results: We did not find any RCTs that addressed the question of the patient-relevant benefit of PET-CT. We found 20 studies of diagnostic methods, carried out on a total of 854 patients, of whom 82.2% were male. These studies had a high potential for bias. In two of them, PET-CT was directly compared with endosonography or CT. Estimates of sensitivity and specificity varied widely across studies. 54% of all patients (median value across studies) had no histopathological response to therapy at the end of treatment. Taking a reduction of the standard uptake value (SUV) by at least 35% as a threshold criterion, we found that the median negative predictive value of PET across all studies was 86.5%. Conclusion: There is no robust evidence for a patient-relevant benefit of PET and PET-CT in patients with esophageal carcinoma. PET could potentially be used to distinguish treatment responders from non-responders after the first cycle of treatment. RCTs with patient-relevant endpoints will be needed in order to determine whether this is useful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-552
JournalDeutsches Arzteblatt International
Issue number33-34
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2015


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