Clinical practice guidelines and re-imbursement schedules vary in the recommended timing of FDG-PET/CT in the diagnostic evaluation of suspected or confirmed lung cancer. The aim was to estimate the probability of requiring more than one invasive test to complete diagnosis and staging in non-small cell lung cancer if FDG-PET/CT was used prior to initial biopsy (FDG-PET/CT First) compared to current Australian funding criteria (CT First).
Single-centre retrospective study of individuals with pathologically confirmed NSCLC without evidence of metastatic disease on baseline computed tomography (CT) of the chest. Decision tree analysis based on diagnosis and staging approaches estimated the probability of requiring more than one invasive biopsy. A Monte Carlo analysis with 1000 simulations was used to estimate decision tree precision.
After exclusions, 115 patients were included with median (IQR) age of 71 (63-79) and 55.6% were male. The majority of cases were early stage (Stage I 43.5%, Stage II 19.1%) and adenocarcinoma (65.2%) histological subtype. The estimated probability of requiring more than one invasive biopsy with FDG-PET/CT prior was 0.12 compared to 0.19 when using the base case CT First scenario. Using the Monte Carlo analysis, the mean (95% CI) probability using the FDG-PET First approach was 0.15 (95%CI 0.12-0.20) versus 0.20 (95% CI 0.15-0.27) for the CT First approach. Only 7.8% had CT Chest-occult metastatic disease on FDG-PET that was accessible by percutaneous biopsy.
FDG-PET/CT performed prior to initial biopsy may reduce the proportion of people with NSCLC who require more than one biopsy attempt, but the clinical significance and overall cost-utility requires evaluation.