OBJECTIVES: Radiation-induced changes (RIC) secondary to focal radiotherapy can imitate tumour progression in brain metastases and make follow-up clinical decision making unreliable. 11C-methyl-L-methionine-PET (MET-PET) is widely used for the diagnosis of RIC in brain metastases, but minimal literature exists regarding the optimum PET measuring parameter to be used. We analysed the diagnostic performance of different MET-PET measuring parameters in distinguishing between RIC and tumour progression in a retrospective cohort of brain metastasis patients.
METHODS: 26 patients with 31 metastatic lesions were included on the basis of having undergone a PET scan due to radiological uncertainty of disease progression. The PET images were analysed and methionine uptake quantified using standardised-uptake-values (SUV) and tumour-to-normal tissue (T/N) ratios, generated as SUVmean, SUVmax, SUVpeak, T/Nmean, T/Nmax-mean and T/Npeak-mean. Metabolic-tumour-volume and total-lesion methionine metabolism were also computed. A definitive diagnosis of either RIC or tumour progression was established by clinicoradiological follow-up of least 4 months subsequent to the investigative PET scan.
RESULTS: All MET-PET parameters except metabolic-tumour-volume showed statistically significant differences between tumour progression and lesions with RIC. Receiver-operating-characteristic curve and area-under the-curve analysis demonstrated the highest value of 0.834 for SUVmax with a corresponding optimum threshold of 3.29. This associated with sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive and negative predictive values of 78.57, 70.59%, 74.32 and 75.25% respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: MET-PET is a useful modality for the diagnosis of RIC in brain metastases. SUVmax was the PET parameter with the greatest diagnostic performance.
ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: More robust comparisons between SUVmax and SUVpeak could enhance follow-up treatment planning.