Paper published in ‘Journal of Nuclear Medicine’
The article entitled “Back-Table Fluorescence-Guided Imaging for Circumferential Resection Margin Evaluation Using Bevacizumab-800CW in Patients with Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer” can be found here.
Negative circumferential resection margins (CRM) are the cornerstone for the curative treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). However, in up to 18.6% of patients, tumor-positive resection margins are detected on histopathology. In this proof-of-concept study, we investigated the feasibility of optical molecular imaging as a tool for evaluating the CRM directly after surgical resection to improve tumor-negative CRM rates.
Methods: LARC patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy received an intravenous bolus injection of 4.5 mg of bevacizumab-800CW, a fluorescent tracer targeting vascular endothelial growth factor A, 2-3 d before surgery (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01972373). First, for evaluation of the CRM status, back-table fluorescence-guided imaging (FGI) of the fresh surgical resection specimens (n = 8) was performed. These results were correlated with histopathology results. Second, for determination of the sensitivity and specificity of bevacizumab-800CW for tumor detection, a mean fluorescence intensity cutoff value was determined from the formalin-fixed tissue slices (n = 42; 17 patients). Local bevacizumab-800CW accumulation was evaluated by fluorescence microscopy.
Results: Back-table FGI correctly identified a tumor-positive CRM by high fluorescence intensities in 1 of 2 patients (50%) with a tumor-positive CRM. For the other patient, low fluorescence intensities were shown, although (sub)millimeter tumor deposits were present less than 1 mm from the CRM. FGI correctly identified 5 of 6 tumor-negative CRM (83%). The 1 patient with false-positive findings had a marginal negative CRM of only 1.4 mm. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of the fluorescence intensities of formalin-fixed tissue slices yielded an optimal mean fluorescence intensity cutoff value for tumor detection of 5,775 (sensitivity of 96.19% and specificity of 80.39%). Bevacizumab-800CW enabled a clear differentiation between tumor and normal tissue up to a microscopic level, with a tumor-to-background ratio of 4.7 ± 2.5 (mean ± SD).
Conclusion: In this proof-of-concept study, we showed the potential of back-table FGI for evaluating the CRM status in LARC patients. Optimization of this technique with adaptation of standard operating procedures could change perioperative decision making with regard to extending resections or applying intraoperative radiation therapy in the case of positive CRM.