Introduction The prospectively randomized HD15 multicenter trial of the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG) included advanced-stage Hodgkin lymphoma patients comparing 8 cycles of BEACOPPescalated with 6 cycles or 8 cycles time-condensed BEACOPPbaseline. One other main study endpoint was the prognostic value of 18F-fluorodesoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) following chemotherapy. The aim was to specify the negative predictive value of PET (NPV) in patients with residual tumour mass after chemotherapy.

Methods Entry criteria for the PET question were partial remission (PR) after the end of chemotherapy with at least one involved nodal site measuring more than 2.5 cm in diameter by computed tomography (CT). Exclusion criteria included diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels and skeletal involvement with risk of instability. Calculations were restricted to those cases with either progressive disease (PD) or relapse within 12 months after PET or at least 12 months of follow-up. A total of 275 patients were eligible for this analysis. The assessment was based on those patients confirmed by an expert panel as being PET-negative. CT verification was performed to identify false positive PET findings. The NPV was defined as the proportion of patients without progression or relapse within 12 months.

Results 9/216 patients with PET-negative residues and 9/59 patients with PET-positive residues had PD or relapse within one year of follow-up. The NPV was 0.958% (95% CI 0.931 – 0.985%). In 244/245 cases with PET-negative residual masses, no irradiation was given. In the 62/66 cases with PET-positive residues, additional radiotherapy was performed. Progression/relapse rates were significantly different between those patients with residual mass being PET-negative or PET-positive (p=0.0053). PET-negative patients, who were assessed as partial response by CT, had a prognosis similar to those in complete remission. There was no significant difference in the progression free survival in this trial and the prior GHSG trials HD12 (arms pooled) and HD9 (arm C) for advanced-stage HL (p=0.266). Importantly, the proportion of patients receiving radiotherapy decreased from 70% (HD9-C) to 39% (HD12) and 12% (HD15).

Discussion The high NPV of PET suggests that radiotherapy following 6 or 8 cycles of BEACOPP might be restricted to those patients who are PET-positive after chemotherapy.

Author notes

Disclosure:Research Funding: J&J, Amgen, Chugai.