Assessment of tumor heterogeneity in treatment-naïve adrenocortical cancer patients using 18F-FDG positron emission tomography

Rudolf A. Werner, Matthias Kroiss, Masatoyo Nakajo, Dirk O. Mügge, Stefanie Hahner, Martin Fassnacht, Andreas Schirbel, Christina Bluemel, Takahiro Higuchi, Laszló Papp, Norbert Zsótér, Andreas K. Buck, Ralph A. Bundschuh, Constantin Lapa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


As an orphan malignancy, only limited treatment options are available in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC). Non-invasive risk assessment has not been described but may be of value to stratify patients for treatment. We aimed to evaluate the potential value of intra-individual tumor heterogeneity as assessed by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for outcome prediction in treatment-naïve ACC patients. Ten patients with primary diagnosis of ACC were included in this study. Prior to any treatment initiation, baseline 18F-FDG PET scans were performed. Tumor staging was performed using the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors (ENS@T). Intratumoral heterogeneity of the primary tumor was assessed by manual segmentation using conventional PET parameters (standardized uptake values and tumor-to-liver ratios) and textural features. The impact of tumoral heterogeneity based on pre-therapeutic 18F-FDG PET to predict progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) was evaluated by receiver operating characteristic analysis. On average, tumor recurrence or progression was detected after median of 561 days (range 71–1434 days) after the pre-therapeutic baseline PET scan. 50 % of the patients died of ACC within the follow-up period (mean 983 ± 404 days). Pre-therapeutic tumor volume was associated with PFS (r = −0.67, p = 0.05) and Ki67 index with OS (r = −0.66, p = 0.04). ENS@T tumor stage was the only parameter to correlate with both PFS and OS (r = −0.82, p = 0.001, and r = −0.72, p = 0.01, respectively). In the subgroup of patients without distant metastases (ENS@T stages II and III), age and pre-therapeutic tumor volume correlated significantly with PFS (r = 0.96, p = 0.01 and r = −0.93, p = 0.02, respectively) and OS (r = 0.95, p = 0.02 and r = −0.90, p = 0.04, respectively). None of the investigated classic or textural PET parameters predicted PFS or OS. In this pilot study in treatment-naïve ACC patients, conventional 18F-FDG PET-derived parameters and textural tumor heterogeneity features were not suitable to identify high-risk patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-800
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • ACC
  • Textural features
  • Tumor heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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