Role of C11-FDG dual-tracer PET-CT scan in metastatic screening of hepatocellular carcinoma—a cost-effectiveness analysis

Kevin K. W. Chu, Albert C. Y. Chan, Ka Wing Ma, Wong Hoi She, Wing Chiu Dai, Kenneth S. H. Chok, Tan To Cheung, Chung Mau Lo

Abstract

Background: We aimed to identify predictive factors for positron emission tomography (PET)-detected hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastasis and a cost-effective approach to preoperative PET-computed tomography (CT) for detecting metastasis.
Methods: Clinicopathological and survival data of HCC patients having PET-CT with 18F-fludeoxyglucose (FDG) and 11C-acetate (ACT) following contrast-enhanced CT/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for preoperative tumor staging were reviewed. Binary logistic regression was performed to identify predictive factors for PET-detected metastasis. A cost-benefit analysis model was built for the incurred costs and the impact of PET-CT findings on treatment strategy was studied.
Results: Totally 152 patients were analyzed. Dual-tracer PET-CT detected metastasis in 17 patients (11%). By multivariate analysis, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) ≥400 ng/mL [relative risk (RR): 4.30, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.41–13.15, P=0.011] and bilobar disease (RR: 3.94, 95% CI: 1.24–12.52, P=0.014) were independent predictive factors for PET-detected metastasis. PET-CT findings altered the treatment strategy for 12 patients (7.9%); three partial hepatectomies, eight episodes of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and one episode of ablation were avoided, with an estimated cost-saving of US $91,000, $150,000 and $10,600 respectively. Had the PET-CT been performed only for patients with AFP ≥400 ng/mL or bilobar disease (n=74), metastasis would have been confirmed in 14 patients (18.9%), and the cost-saving per patient was estimated at US $1,070.
Conclusions: Dual-tracer PET-CT is cost-effective and useful for preoperative HCC staging in patients with AFP ≥400 ng/mL or bilobar disease. Its routine use in preoperative workup for all HCC patients is not recommended. Unilobar disease with AFP <400 ng/mL can achieve good negative predictive value for PET- detected metastasis. Screening patients with either factor can avoid unnecessary procedures and is thus cost- effective for preoperative HCC workup.