Reporting Guidelines for PET/CT in Oncology Not Being Followed

Greater efforts needed to harmonize reporting practices.

Physicians are not consistently following reporting guidelines for PET/CT scans in oncology, according to a study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Researchers from Germany, Australia, and Austria developed a survey to assess clinicians’ approaches towards reporting PET/CT findings.

The 28-question electronic survey was active for six weeks and was distributed world-wide. Most (78%) responses came from Europe.

Of all responders:

  • 21% were nuclear medicine specialists

  • 41% were radiologists

  • 22% were dual-board certified

  • 9% were residents in either nuclear medicine or radiology

  • 5% were medical physicists, radiographers, or oncologists

Aside from questions about responders’ demographics and professional background, the survey asked about the structure and quality of the PET/CT reports including:

  • Type of reported information

  • Use of reporting standards

  • Mix of reporting and presenting experts.

Reports were described as being done according to the EANM/SNMMI 2015 guidelines for 18F-FDG-PET/CT imaging in just over half (55%) of responses, but 30% responders were unaware of these guidelines.

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The report structures varied across sites with most sites; 38% of sites report PET with supplementary localization information from CT and 27% sites report a CT report with supplementary PET information. One third of the reports include information on the TNM stage of the oncology patient in all reports, while 34% only included it occasionally, while 12% reports only for selected tumors. For reports for therapy response assessments, various well-established criteria are employed ranging from 15% (EORTC) to 57% (Deauville) of cases.

The researchers concluded that there was a broad variation in the PET/CT reporting strategies adopted for oncology studies. There was a widespread lack of awareness that there were existing guidelines for PET/CT reporting. This, the authors wrote, raised concerns as to whether reporting clinicians are optimally using the complementary information from each modality.