Nuclear medicine imaging monitors effectiveness of therapy for melanoma patients

Source: Science Daily, March 2019

Nuclear medicine imaging with PET/CT can monitor the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatment for metastatic melanoma and predict outcome. In this way, a patient’s therapy can be more effectively tailored to his or her personal response.

Metastatic melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers, so determination of a treatment’s effectiveness is essential but can be tricky. A study featured in the March issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine demonstrates that 18F-FDG positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) can monitor immunotherapy with ipilimumab, a “checkpoint inhibitor” that allows the immune system to attack cancer cells.

“Checkpoint inhibitor therapy is now a standard therapy for metastatic melanoma,” explains Wolfgang A. Weber, MD, of Technical University Munich, Germany (formerly of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). “However, there were concerns about whether FDG PET/CT could be used to monitor tumor response to this immunotherapy, because inflammatory reactions to the immunotherapy may cause false positive findings. The present study shows that tumor response to checkpoint inhibitor therapy with ipilimumab can be assessed accurately by FDG PET after completion of ipilimumab therapy.”

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