The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on oncological disease extent at FDG PET/CT staging: the ONCOVIPET study

Carmelo Caldarella, Fabrizio Cocciolillo, Silvia Taralli, Maria Luisa Lorusso, Valentina Scolozzi, Daniele Antonio Pizzuto, Maria Lucia Calcagni, Vittoria Rufini, Davide Guido, Fernando Palluzzi, Luciano Giacò, Alessandro Giordano, Lucia Leccisotti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


Purpose: To investigate whether the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown had an impact on the extent of cancer disease at FDG PET/CT staging as surrogate marker. Methods: Retrospective observational study including cancer patients submitted to FDG PET/CT staging from June 1 to October 31, 2020, and June 1 to October 31, 2019, respectively. Data regarding primary tumour, nodal (N) status and number of involved nodal stations, and presence and number of distant metastases (M) were collected. Each scan was classified in limited vs advanced status. Data were aggregated across the study population and tumour type. Bi-weekly frequencies of the observed events were analysed. Results: Six hundred eleven patients were included (240 in 2019 vs 371 in 2020, respectively). A significant increase of advanced disease patients (rate 1.56, P < 0.001), N + or M + patients (rate 1.84 and 2.09, respectively, P < 0.001), and patients with a greater number of involved N stations or M (rate 2.01 and 2.06, respectively, P < 0.001) were found in 2020 compared with data of 2019. Analysis by tumour type showed a significant increase of advanced disease in lymphoma and lung cancer in 2020 compared with 2019 (P < 0.001). In addition, a significant increase of nodal involvement was found in lung, gastro-intestinal, and breast cancers, as well as in lymphoma patients (P < 0.02). A significant increase of distant metastases was found in lung cancers (P = 0.002). Conclusion: Cancer patients with advanced disease at FDG PET/CT staging increased in 2020 compared with 2019, following the national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.5-fold with a significant increase of patients with N or M involvement. Targeted health interventions are needed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on patient outcome.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)N/A-N/A
RivistaEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • FDG
  • Oncology
  • PET
  • Pandemic
  • Staging


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