Accuracy of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography within the clinical practice of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z4031 trial to diagnose clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer.


Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) is recommended for diagnosis and staging of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Meta-analyses of FDG-PET diagnostic accuracy demonstrated sensitivity of 96% and specificity of 78% but were performed in select centers, introducing potential bias. This study evaluates the accuracy of FDG-PET to diagnose NSCLC and examines differences across enrolling sites in the national American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) Z4031 trial.

Between 2004 and 2006, 959 eligible patients with clinical stage I (cT1-2 N0 M0) known or suspected NSCLC were enrolled in the Z4031 trial, and with a baseline FDG-PET available for 682. Final diagnosis was determined by pathologic examination. FDG-PET avidity was categorized into avid or not avid by radiologist description or reported maximum standard uptake value. FDG-PET diagnostic accuracy was calculated for the entire cohort. Accuracy differences based on preoperative size and by enrolling site were examined.

Preoperative FDG-PET results were available for 682 participants enrolled at 51 sites in 39 cities. Lung cancer prevalence was 83%. FDG-PET sensitivity was 82% (95% confidence interval, 79 to 85) and specificity was 31% (95% confidence interval, 23% to 40%). Positive and negative predictive values were 85% and 26%, respectively. Accuracy improved with lesion size. Of 80 false-positive scans, 69% were granulomas. False-negative scans occurred in 101 patients, with adenocarcinoma being the most frequent (64%), and 11 were 10 mm or less. The sensitivity varied from 68% to 91% (p=0.03), and the specificity ranged from 15% to 44% (p=0.72) across cities with more than 25 participants.

In a national surgical population with clinical stage I NSCLC, FDG-PET to diagnose lung cancer performed poorly compared with published studies.

  • Aldrich MC
  • Andrade GM
  • Ballman KV
  • Cerfolio RJ
  • Chen CL
  • D'Amico TA
  • Decker PA
  • Deppen SA
  • Grogan EL
  • Harpole DH
  • Jones DR
  • Keenan RJ
  • Meyers BF
  • Putnam JB
  • Shrager JB
  • Verdial FC
PubMed ID
Appears In
Ann Thorac Surg, 2014, 97 (4)