Positron emission tomography in the diagnostic work-up of screening-detected lung nodules

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Low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer can reduce lung cancer mortality, but overdiagnosis, false positives and invasive procedures for benign nodules are worrying. We evaluated the utility of positron emission tomography (PET)-CT in characterising indeterminate screeningdetected lung nodules. 383 nodules, examined by PET-CT over the first 6 years of the COSMOS (Continuous Observation of Smoking Subjects) study to diagnose primary lung cancer, were reviewed and compared with pathological findings (surgically-treated patients) or follow-up (negative CT for ≥2 years, considered negative); 196 nodules were malignant. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of PET-CT for differentially diagnosing malignant nodules were, respectively, 64%, 89% and 76% overall, and 82%, 92% and 88% for baseline-detected nodules. Performance was lower for nodules found at repeat annual scans, with sensitivity ranging from 22% for nonsolid to 79% for solid nodules (p=0.0001). Sensitivity (87%) and specificity (73%) were high for nodules ≥15 mm, better (sensitivity 98%) for solid nodules ≥15 mm. PET-CT was highly sensitive for the differential diagnosis of indeterminate nodules detected at baseline, nodules ≥15 mm and solid nodules. Sensitivity was low for sub-solid nodules and nodules discovered after baseline for which other methods, e.g. volume doubling time, should be used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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