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The utility of initial staging PET-CT as a baseline scan for surveillance imaging in stage II and III melanoma.

BACKGROUND:This study evaluates the utility of whole-body PET-CT for the initial staging and subsequent surveillance imaging of patients with completely resected stage II and stage III melanoma. METHODS:A single-center, retrospective review of patients who received perioperative whole-body PET-CT from January 1, 2005 to December 1, 2019 within three months of initial melanoma diagnosis was performed. RESULTS:Of 258 total patients with completely resected melanoma who had a PET-CT within 3 months after their melanoma diagnosis, 113 had stage II and 145 had stage III melanoma. PET-CT detected distant metastasis in 3 (2.7%) of 113 stage II patients and 7 (4.8%) of 145 stage III patients. 179 of 258 patients had adequate follow-up time to determine whether they received surveillance cross-sectional imaging and whether they had a melanoma recurrence. 143 (79.9%) received subsequent surveillance imaging, 74 of whom developed a recurrence. In 64 (86.5%) of 74 cases, recurrence was detected by routine surveillance. 26 (34.2%) of 76 stage II and 65 (63.1%) of 103 stage III patients developed a recurrence. The median time to recurrence among the 179 patients for stage II and III was 16.3 and 13.0 months, respectively. CONCLUSIONS:These findings indicate that baseline staging with whole-body PET-CT rarely provides information that changes initial management. Rather, the value of the initial PET-CT is as a baseline for subsequent surveillance scans. Therefore, it may be premature to discourage cross-sectional imaging for patients with stage II and III melanoma without supportive evidence or a reliable biomarker of recurrent disease.


Ravichandran, Surya, Neel Nath, David C. Jones, Gabriel Li, Visakha Suresh, Adam K. Brys, Brent A. Hanks, et al. “The utility of initial staging PET-CT as a baseline scan for surveillance imaging in stage II and III melanoma.” Surgical Oncology 35 (November 2, 2020): 533–39.

Published Date: 
Monday, November 2, 2020
Published In: 
Surgical Oncology