Lymph node staging in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is challenging and important for deciding treatment policy. The role of PET/CT scans in lymph node staging of NSCLC remains controversial when comparing TB and non-TB endemic regions. This study systematically reviews the literature regarding the diagnostic performance of PET/CT in lymph node staging of patients with NSCLC, and determines its pooled sensitivity and specicity. Methods: The databases of PubMed, Medline, and Cochrane library were searched for relevant studies. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of each study. A meta-analysis of the reported sensitivity and specicity of each study was performed. Results: Seven of 86 studies were included. These studies had moderate to good methodological quality. Pooled sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio, and negative likelihood ratio for patient-based analyses (five studies) were 66%, 92.7%, 5.86%, and 0.41%, respectively, and those for lesion-based analyses (six studies) were 59.4%, 96.5%, 9.37%, and 0.31%, respectively. Subanalysis of endemic regions of tuberculosis (TB) showed that these regions had lower sensitivity and similar specificity to non-TB endemic regions. Conclusion: PET/CT showed high specificity in the lymph node staging of NSCLC and lower sensitivity in TB endemic regions.
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