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PET/CT and the Response to Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer


Evangelista Laura*, Matteo Sepulcri and Giulia Pasello   Pages 1 - 8 ( 8 )


Objective: In recent years, the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors has significantly changed the outcome of patients affected by lung cancer and cutaneous melanoma. Although the clinical advantages, the selection of patients and the evaluation of response to immunotherapy remain unclear, the immune-related Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumor (irRECIST) was proposed as an update of the RECIST criteria for the assessment of response to immunotherapy. However, morphological images cannot predict early response to therapy that represents a challenge in clinical practice. 18F-FDG PET/CT before and after immunotherapy has an indeterminate role, demonstrating ambiguous results due to inflammatory effects secondary to activation of the immune system. The aim of the present review was to analyze the role of PET/CT as a guide for immunotherapy, by analyzing the current status and future perspectives.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in order to select all papers that discussed the role of PET/CT with FDG or other tracers in the evaluation or prediction of response to immunotherapy in lung cancer patients.

Results: Many papers are now available. Many clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of immunotherapy in lung cancer patients. FDG PET/CT can be used for the prediction of response to immunotherapy, while its utility for the evaluation of response is not still clearly reported. Moreover, the standardization of FDG PET/CT interpretation is missing and different criteria, such as information, have been investigated until now.

Conclusions: The utility of FDG PET/CT for patients with lung cancer undergoing immunotherapies is still preliminary and not well addressed. New agents for PET are promising, but large clinical trials are mandatory.


Immunotherapy, 18F-FDG, PET/CT, response to therapy.


Nuclear Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine – DIMED, University of Padua, Radiation Oncology Unit, Veneto Institute of Oncology IOV - IRCCS, Padua, Oncology 2 Unit, Veneto Institute of Oncology IOV - IRCCS, Padua

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