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The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography coupled with computed tomography (18F-FDG-PET/CT) to predict the WHO malignancy grade, initial staging, and invasive potential of thymic epithelial tumors. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 56 patients with thymic epithelial tumors who were evaluated by PET/CT before surgery and underwent surgical resection. We analyzed the relationship of the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) with the WHO histological classification, tumor invasion, TNM classification, and the Masaoka-Koga classification. There were differences of SUVmax of the FDG-PET between thymic carcinoma (9.09 ± 3.34) and thymoma (4.86 ± 2.45; p < 0.01), thymic carcinoma (9.09 ± 3.34) and high-grade thymoma (6.01 ± 2.78; p < 0.01), and high-grade thymoma (6.01 ± 2.78) and low-grade thymoma (4.06 ± 1.86; p < 0.01). The cut-off value for the SUVmax was 7.40 and 5.40, and the sensitivity/specificity for predicting the histologic subtype of each group was 0.72/0.79 and 0.61/0.85, respectively. According to T classification, SUVmax was significantly higher in T3 (8.31 ± 2.57) than in T1a (4.45 ± 2.06; p < 0.01). Regarding Masaoka-Koga classification and WHO histological classification, a significantly higher SUVmax was detected in patients with stage III and IV disease than in those with stage I and II diseases (p < 0.01). The cut-off value for SUVmax was 5.40 in Masaoka-Koga stage and 5.60 in the WHO classification; the sensitivity/specificity for predicting the histologic subtype was 0.85/0.80 and 0.89/0.78, respectively. FDG-PET is a useful tool to predict aggressiveness of thymic epithelial tumors.


Takamasa Ito, Hidemi Suzuki, Yuichi Sakairi, Hironobu Wada, Takahiro Nakajima, Ichiro Yoshino. 18F-FDG-PET/CT predicts grade of malignancy and invasive potential of thymic epithelial tumors. General thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. 2021 Feb;69(2):274-281

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PMID: 32734427

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