Incidence and Clinical Impact of Inflammatory Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography Uptake After Neoadjuvant Pembrolizumab in Patients with Organ-confined Bladder Cancer Undergoing Radical Cystectomy

Bladder Cancer

Eur Urol Focus. 2020 Nov 7:S2405-4569(20)30287-X. doi: 10.1016/j.euf.2020.10.003. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Data regarding the incidence and prognostic impact of immune-related imaging changes, assessed by 18[F] fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scan, in patients receiving immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are lacking. We relied on the population of patients enrolled in the PURE-01 study to evaluate such changes.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the role of PET/CT to visualize the immune-related adverse events (irAEs) following pembrolizumab.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: From February 2017 to August 2019, in 103 patients with nonmetastatic, clinical T2-4aN0M0 bladder cancer, PET/CT scan was performed before and after neoadjuvant pembrolizumab (N = 206 scans), before radical cystectomy.

INTERVENTION: PET/CT before and after neoadjuvant pembrolizumab, before radical cystectomy.

OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: We analyzed the occurrence of irAEs, evaluated according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 5.0, against the development of inflammatory FDG uptake described at PET/CT (irAEs + PET/CT). Logistic regression analyses evaluated the association between irAEs + PET/CT and the pathological response to pembrolizumab. Kaplan-Meier curves tested their association with progression-free survival (PFS) after pembrolizumab and radical cystectomy.

RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: Forty patients (39%) developed irAEs + PET/CT in several target organs. The most frequent target organs were the thyroid (N = 18), stomach (N = 14), mediastinal lymph nodes (N = 9), and lung (N = 5). These changes were clinically evident in 18 (45%) and were not associated with the pathological response, neither in terms of complete response (ypT0N0, p = 0.07) nor as downstaging to ypT≤1N0 disease (p = 0.1), although ypT0N0 responses were numerically more frequent in patients with irAEs+ PET/CT (47.5% vs 32%). Furthermore, irAE+ PET/CT events were associated with longer, not statistically significant, 24-mo PFS: 88.3% versus 76.5% (p = 0.5). Our results warrant further validation in larger datasets.

CONCLUSIONS: We presented unique surrogate data of PET/CT that could help improve our understanding of nonclinically evident effects of ICI administration, especially in patients at the early disease stage.

PATIENT SUMMARY: We evaluated the utility of PET/CT to visualize the occurrence of inflammatory changes after pembrolizumab in patients with localized bladder cancer without metastases. After immunotherapy, 39% of the patients developed 18[F] fluorodeoxyglucose uptake consistent of inflammatory changes. Overall, our data improve our knowledge on the effects induced by immunotherapy, which may have a clinical impact at longer follow-up. Take Home Message ● In the PURE-01 study, T2-4N0M0 muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients were staged with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) before and after pembrolizumab. ● PET/CT after pembrolizumab revealed inflammatory FDG uptake in 39% of patients, but only 45% of these cases of uptake corresponded to clinically evident adverse events. ● The development of inflammatory uptake was associated with a higher pathological complete response rate and longer progression-free survival, although these differences were not statistically significant.