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ABSTRACT: Our objective was to evaluate the association of arterial (18)F-FDG uptake and calcifications in large arteries as detected by (18)F-FDG PET/CT with the subsequent occurrence of vascular events in otherwise asymptomatic cancer patients.
Clinical follow-up information was obtained for 932 cancer patients examined with whole-body (18)F-FDG PET/CT (median follow-up time, 29 mo). Among this cohort, 279 patients had died from their oncologic disease. In 15 of 932 patients (1.6%), a vascular event, defined as ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, or revascularization, was registered. The maximal standardized uptake value (SUV) was divided by the blood-pool SUV, yielding a target-to-background ratio (TBR) for each arterial segment. The mean TBR as well as a calcified plaque sum score per patient were calculated in the major vessels: ascending, descending, and abdominal aorta, aortic arch, as well as iliac and carotid arteries.
A significant correlation was observed between mean TBR and calcified plaque sum (P < 0.001). Although calcified plaque sum significantly correlated with all conventional risk factors for vascular events, mean TBR correlated only with age, the male sex, and hypertension. The Cox regression hazard model identified a mean TBR >or= 1.7 and a calcified plaque sum >or= 15 as independent predictors for the occurrence of a vascular event. Patients with both mean TBR and calcified plaque sum above these thresholds were identified as having the highest risk for a future vascular event. However, a mean TBR >or= 1.7 had greater prognostic value than did a calcified plaque sum >or= 15.
In a large cohort of cancer patients, increased (18)F-FDG uptake in major arteries emerged as the strongest predictor of a subsequent vascular event. Concomitant severe vascular calcifications seemed to impart a particularly high risk. Given the small event rate in the present study, larger, prospective trials of patients without cancer are required to substantiate these promising results.
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 09/2009; 50(10):1611-20. · 5.77 Impact Factor