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BACKGROUND: Fluoro-L-thymidine (FLT) is a positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) tracer which reflects proliferative activity in a cancer lesion. The main objective of this prospective explorative study was to evaluate whether FLT-PET can be used for the early evaluation of treatment response in colorectal cancer patients (CRC) with liver metastases. Patients with metastatic CRC having at least one measurable (>1 cm) liver metastasis receiving first-line chemotherapy were included. A FLT-PET/CT scan was performed at baseline and after the first treatment. The maximum and mean standardised uptake values (SUVmax, SUVmean) were measured. After three cycles of chemotherapy, treatment response was assessed by CT scan based on RECIST 1.1. RESULTS: Thirty-nine consecutive patients were included of which 27 were evaluable. Dropout was mainly due to disease complications. Nineteen patients (70%) had a partial response, seven (26%) had stable disease and one (4%) had progressive disease. A total of 23 patients (85%) had a decrease in FLT uptake following the first treatment. The patient with progressive disease had the highest increase in FLT uptake in SUVmax. There was no correlation between the response according to RECIST and the early changes in FLT uptake measured as SUVmax (p = 0.24). CONCLUSIONS: No correlation was found between early changes in FLT uptake after the first cycle of treatment and the response evaluated from subsequent CT scans. It seems unlikely that FLT-PET can be used on its own for the early response evaluation of metastatic CRC.

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Colorectal cancer, Early evaluation, FLT-PET, Molecular imaging, [18 F]-3′-Deoxy-3′-fluorothymidine