Nonoperative management (NOM) is increasingly utilized for rectal cancer patients with a clinical complete response (cCR) following total neoadjuvant therapy (TNT). The objective of this pilot study was to determine whether FDG-PET/MRI alters clinical response assessments among stage I-III rectal cancer patients undergoing TNT followed by NOM, relative to MRI alone. This prospective study included 14 subjects with new rectal cancer diagnoses. Imaging consisted of FDG-PET/MRI for initial staging, post-TNT restaging, and surveillance during NOM. Two independent readers assessed treatment response on MRI followed by FDG-PET/MRI. Inter-reader differences were resolved by consensus review. The reference standard for post-TNT restaging consisted of surgical pathology or clinical follow-up. 7/14 subjects completed post-TNT restaging FDG-PET/MRIs. 5/7 subjects had evidence of residual disease and underwent total mesorectal excision; 2/7 subjects had initial cCR with no evidence of disease after 12 months of NOM. FDG-PET/MRI assessments of cCR status at post-TNT restaging had an accuracy of 100%, compared with 71% for MRI alone, as FDG-PET detected residual tumor in 2 more subjects. Inter-reader agreement for cCR status on FDG-PET/MRI was moderate (kappa, 0.56). FDG-PET provided added value in 82% (9/11) of restaging/surveillance scans. Our preliminary data indicate that FDG-PET/MRI can detect more residual disease after TNT than MRI alone, with the FDG-PET component providing added value in most restaging/surveillance scans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2723-2734
Number of pages12
JournalTomography (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • nonoperative management
  • rectal cancer


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