Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Only a minority of esophageal cancers demonstrates a pathologic tumor response (pTR) to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). 18F-FDG PET/CT is often used for restaging after NAC and to assess response. Increasingly, it is used during therapy to identify unresponsive tumors and predict pTR, using avidity of the primary tumor alone. However, definitions of such metabolic tumor response (mTR) vary. We aimed to comprehensively reevaluate metabolic response assessment using accepted parameters, as well as novel concepts of metabolic nodal stage (mN) and metabolic nodal response (mNR). METHODS: This was a single-center retrospective U.K. cohort study. All patients with esophageal cancer staged before NAC with PET/CT and after with CT or PET/CT and undergoing resection from 2006 to 2014 were identified. pTR was defined as Mandard tumor regression grade 1-3; imaging parameters included metrics of tumor avidity (SUVmax/mean/peak), composites of avidity and volume (including metabolic tumor volume), nodal SUVmax, and our new concepts of mN stage and mNR. RESULTS: Eighty-two (27.2%) of 301 patients demonstrated pTR. No pre-NAC PET parameters predicted pTR. In 220 patients restaged by PET/CT, the optimal tumor ΔSUVmax threshold was a 77.8% reduction. This was as sensitive as the current PERCIST 30% reduction, but more specific with a higher negative predictive value (P < 0.001). ΔSUVmax and Δlength independently predicted pTR, and composite avidity/spatial metrics outperformed avidity alone. Although both mTR and mNR were associated with pTR, in 82 patients with 18F-FDG-avid nodes before NAC we observed mNR in 10 (12.2%) not demonstrating mTR. CONCLUSION: Current definitions of metabolic response are suboptimal and too simplistic. Composite avidity/volume measures improve prediction. mNR may further improve response assessment, by specifically assessing metastatic tumor subpopulations, likely responsible for disease relapse, and should be urgently assessed when considering aborting therapy on the basis of mTR alone.

Original publication




Journal article


J Nucl Med

Publication Date





266 - 275


esophageal cancer, neoadjuvant therapy, positron-emission tomography, precision oncology, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Agents, Chemotherapy, Adjuvant, Esophageal Neoplasms, Female, Fluorodeoxyglucose F18, Humans, Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Male, Middle Aged, Neoadjuvant Therapy, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography, Prognosis, Radiopharmaceuticals, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Treatment Outcome