To examine the association between 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) uptake in positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) and the response to anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody therapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, 89 patients with advanced or recurrent NSCLC were retrospectively analysed. Maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) in 18F-FDG PET/CT and the response to anti-PD-1 antibodies were recorded. A cut-off value of SUVmax was determined by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis for patient stratification. Among the 89 patients evaluated, 24 were classified as responders (all partial response), and 65 as non-responders. The average SUVmax of the responders was 15.60 (range, 6.44–51.10), which was significantly higher than that of the non-responders (11.61; range, 2.13–32.75; P = 0.0168, Student’s t-test). The cut-off SUVmax value selected for stratification was 11.16 (sensitivity and specificity, 0.792 and 0.585, respectively). The response rate of patients with SUVmax value ≥ 11.16 (41.3% [19/46]) was significantly higher than that of patients with SUVmax < 11.16 (11.6% [5/43], P = 0.0012, Chi-squared test). The SUVmax in 18F-FDG PET/CT is a potential predictive marker of response to anti-PD-1 antibody therapy in NSCLC patients. Further prospective studies of large populations are necessary to validate these results.
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