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28.11.2018 | Original Article

Prognostic value of baseline metabolic tumor volume measured on 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography in melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab therapy

European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Kimiteru Ito, Heiko Schöder, Rebecca Teng, John L. Humm, Ai Ni, Jedd D. Wolchok, Wolfgang A. Weber



Ipilimumab induces durable remission in about 15–20% of patients with metastatic melanoma. However, reliable predictors of response to ipilimumab are currently lacking. Whole-body metabolic tumor volume (wMTV) has been shown to be a strong prognostic factor in a variety of malignancies treated with chemotherapy, but few results have been reported for patients treated with immunotherapy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of wMTV and other metabolic parameters from baseline 18F-FDG PET/CT scans in patients with melanoma being treated with ipilimumab.


The prognostic impact of wMTV, as well as mean standardized uptake values and total lesion glycolysis, was evaluated in 142 consecutive patients with melanoma treated with single-agent ipilimumab therapy. Metabolic parameters were dichotomized by their respective medians and correlated with overall survival (OS). In addition, the prognostic value of metabolic parameters combined with known clinical prognostic factors was evaluated in multivariate analyses.


The median OS time in all patients was 14.7 months (95% CI 10.45–18.93 months). wMTV was a strong independent prognostic factor for OS (p = 0.001). The median survival in patients with a metabolic volume above the median was 10.8 months (95% CI 5.88–15.81 months) as compared with 26.0 months (95% CI 3.02–49.15 months) in patients with an MTV below the median. A multivariate model including wMTV and known clinical prognostic factors, such as age and the presence of brain metastases, further improved the identification of patient subgroups with different OS times.


wMTV appears to be a strong independent prognostic factor in melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab, and can be determined semiautomatically from routine 18F- FDG PET/CT scans. wMTV, combined with clinical prognostic factors, could be used to personalize immunotherapy and in future clinical studies.

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