Rationale and objectives: Although low-dose computed tomography (CT) is a recommended modality for lung cancer screening in high-risk populations, the role of other modalities, such as [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (PET), is unclear. We conducted a systematic review to describe the role of PET in lung cancer screening. Materials and methods: A systematic review was conducted by reviewing primary studies focusing on PET screening for lung cancer until July 2012. Two independent reviewers identified studies that were compatible for inclusion/exclusion criteria. The analysis was restricted to English and included studies published since 2000. A descriptive analysis was used to summarize the results, and the pooled diagnostic performance of selective PET screening was calculated by weighted average using individual sample sizes. Results: Among the identified studies (n = 3497), 12 studies were included for analysis. None of the studies evaluated the efficacy of primary PET screening specific to lung cancer. Eight studies focused on primary PET screening for all types of cancer; the detection rates of lung cancer were low. Four studies reported evidence of lung cancer screening programs with selective PET, in which the estimated pooled sensitivity and specificity was 83% and 91%, respectively. Conclusions: The role of primary PET screening for lung cancer remains unknown. However, PET has high sensitivity and specificity as a selective screening modality. Further studies must be conducted to evaluate the use of PET or PET/computed tomography screening for high-risk populations, preferably using randomized trials or prospective registration. Advances in knowledge: Our meta-analysis indicates that PET has high sensitivity and specificity as a selective screening modality.
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