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Original Research: Lung Cancer |

Use of [18F]Fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose Positron Emission Tomographic Imaging in the National Lung Screening Trial

Viswam S. Nair, MD; Vandana Sundaram, MPH; Michael K. Gould, MD; Manisha Desai, PhD
Author and Funding Information

FUNDING/SUPPORT: Dr Nair was sponsored by a LUNGevity Career Development Award.

aDepartments of Medicine and Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

bQuantitative Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

cDepartment of Research and Evaluation (Health Services Research and Implementation Science), Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, CA

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Manisha Desai, PhD, Quantitative Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016;150(3):621-630. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.05.006
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Background  Positron emission tomography (PET) is a diagnostic tool for lung cancer evaluation. No studies have ascertained practice patterns and determined the appropriateness of PET imaging in a large group of US patients with screen-detected lung nodules.

Methods  We analyzed participants in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) with positive screening test results and identified individuals with a PET scan performed prior to lung cancer diagnosis (diagnostic PET). Appropriate scan was defined as one performed in a patient with a nodule ≥ 0.8 cm. Logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with diagnostic PET scan use and appropriateness of PET scan use.

Results  Diagnostic PET imaging was performed in 1,556 of 14,195 patients (11%) with positive screen results; 331 of these (21%) were inappropriate. PET scan use by endemic fungal disease area was comparable although patients from the Northeast/Southeast were twice as likely as the West to have a diagnostic PET. Trial arm, older age, sex, nodule size ≥ 0.8 cm, upper lobe location, and spiculated margin were variables positively associated with use. Trial arm, older age, and spiculated margin were positively associated with appropriate use. Only 561 diagnostic PETs (36%) were recommended by a radiologist and 284 PETs performed for nodules < 0.8 cm (86%) were ordered despite no recommendation from a radiologist.

Conclusions  PET imaging was differentially used in the NLST and inappropriately used in many cases against radiologist recommendations. These data suggest PET imaging may be overused in the lung cancer screening population and may contribute to excess health-care costs.

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