A proposed new imaging pathway for patients with suspected lung cancer.
Macpherson R., Benamore R., Panakis N., Sayeed R., Breen D., Bradley K., Carter R., Baldwin D., Craig J., Gleeson F.
AIMS: PET-CT scans are routinely performed in patients with lung cancer after investigation by chest x-ray (CXR) and CT scan, when these have demonstrated potentially curable disease. If the majority of patients with lung cancer potentially suitable for curative treatment could be identified earlier in the diagnostic pathway on the basis of CXR findings they could be referred for PET-CT imaging without a prior CT scan. We investigated the clinical and financial implications of adopting such a strategy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The details of 1187 patients referred with suspected lung cancer between July 2006 and August 2009 were analysed. The initial CXR and subsequent imaging of patients fit for curative treatment (Performance Status 0/1, FEV1 > 1.0) were reviewed (n = 251). The clinical and financial implications of referring patients for first line PET-CT if deemed potentially curable based on CXR findings were assessed. RESULTS: 107 of 1187 patients had potentially curable lung cancer on PS, lung function, CT and PET-CT. 96 of these 107 patients (90%) were correctly identified on CXR. 149 patients overall were diagnosed as potentially curable on CXR. Referring suitable patients for an immediate PET-CT scan resulted in a reduction in the time to complete staging investigations. CONCLUSIONS: Early PET-CT scanning for patients with suspected lung cancer, potentially suitable for curative therapy could result in more efficient staging with little additional cost.