The Role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography in the Primary Staging of Newly Diagnosed Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Literature

  • CONTEXT: Management of newly diagnosed prostate cancer (PCa) is guided in part by accurate clinical staging. The role of imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), in initial staging remains controversial.

    OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the studies of MRI and/or PET/CT in the staging of newly diagnosed PCa with respect to tumor (T), nodal (N), and metastatic (M) staging (TNM staging).

    EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: We performed a systematic review of the literature using MEDLINE and Web of Science databases between 2012 and 2020 following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement guidelines.

    EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: A total of 139 studies (83 on T, 47 on N, and 24 on M status) were included. Ninety-nine (71%) were retrospective, 39 (28%) were prospective, and one was a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Most studies on T staging examined MRI, while PET/CT was used primarily for N and M staging. Sensitivity for the detection of extraprostatic extension, seminal vesicle invasion, or lymph node invasion ranged widely. When imaging was incorporated into existing risk tools, gain in accuracy was observed in some studies, although these findings have not been replicated. For M staging, most favorable results were reported for prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET/CT, which demonstrated significantly better performance than conventional imaging.

    CONCLUSIONS: A variety of studies on modern imaging techniques for TNM staging in newly diagnosed PCa exist. For T and N staging, reported sensitivity of imaging modalities such as MRI or PET/CT varied widely due to data heterogeneity, small sample size, and low event rates resulting in large confidence intervals and a high level of uncertainty. Therefore, uniformity in data presentation and standardization on this topic are needed. The most promising technique for M staging, which was evaluated recently in an RCT, is PSMA-PET/CT.

    PATIENT SUMMARY: We performed a systematic review of currently available imaging modalities to stage newly diagnosed prostate cancer. With respect to local tumor and lymph node assessment, performance of imaging ranged widely. However, prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography/computed tomography showed favorable results for the detection of distant metastases.

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