Utility of FDG PET/CT for Preoperative Staging of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers Manifesting as Subsolid Nodules With a Solid Portion of 3 cm or Smaller


The objective of our study was to investigate the utility of FDG PET/CT for the preoperative staging of subsolid non-smallcell lung cancers (NSCLCs) with a solid portion size of 3 cm or smaller.


We retrospectively enrolled 855 patients with pathologically proven NSCLCs manifesting as subsolid nodules with a solid portion of 3 cm or smaller on CT. We then compared the diagnostic performances of FDG PET/CT and chest CT for detecting lymph node (LN), intrathoracic, or distant metastases in patients who underwent preoperative chest CT and FDG PET/CT. After propensity score matching, we compared the diagnostic performance of FDG PET/CT in the group who underwent both chest CT and FDG PET/CT with that of chest CT in patients who did not undergo FDG PET/CT.


There were LN metastases in 25 of 765 patients (3.3%) who underwent surgical LN dissection or biopsy and intrathoracic or distant metastasis in two of 855 patients (0.2%). For LN staging, FDG PET/CT showed a sensitivity of 44.0%, specificity of 81.5%, positive predictive value of 9.6%, negative predictive value of 97.0%, and accuracy of 79.9%, which were lower than those of chest CT for accuracy (p < 0.0001). FDG PET/CT could not accurately detect any intrathoracic or distant metastasis. After propensity score matching, the diagnostic accuracy for LN staging of FDG PET/CT in the group who underwent both CT and FDGPET/CT was lower than that of chest CT in the group who did not undergo FDG PET/CT (p = 0.002), and the diagnostic accuracy for intrathoracic and distant metastases was not different (p > 0.999).


FDG PET/CT has limited utility in preoperatively detecting LN or distant metastasis in patients with subsolid NSCLCs with a solid portion size of 3 cm or smaller.