Staging and response assessment in lymphomas: the new Lugano classification
Staging and response criteria were initially developed for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) over 60 years ago, but not until 1999 were response criteria published for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Revisions to these criteria for both NHL and HL were published in 2007 by an international working group, incorporating PET for response assessment, and were widely adopted. After years of experience with these criteria, a workshop including representatives of most major international lymphoma cooperative groups and cancer centers was held at the 11th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML) in June, 2011 to determine what changes were needed. An Imaging Task Force was created to update the relevance of existing imaging for staging, reassess the role of interim PET-CT, standardize PET-CT reporting, and to evaluate the potential prognostic value of quantitative analyses using PET and CT. A clinical task force was charged with assessing the potential of PET-CT to modify initial staging. A subsequent workshop was help at ICML-12, June 2013. Conclusions included: PET-CT should now be used to stage FDG-avid lymphomas; for others, CT will define stage. Whereas Ann Arbor classification will still be used for disease localization, patients should be treated as limited disease [I (E), II (E)], or extensive disease [III-IV (E)], directed by prognostic and risk factors. Since symptom designation A and B are frequently neither recorded nor accurate, and are not prognostic in most widely used prognostic indices for HL or the various types of NHL, these designations need only be applied to the limited clinical situations where they impact treatment decisions (e.g., stage II HL). PET-CT can replace the bone marrow biopsy (BMBx) for HL. A positive PET of bone or bone marrow is adequate to designate advanced stage in DLBCL. However, BMBx can be considered in DLBCL with no PET evidence of BM involvement, if identification of discordant histology is relevant for patient management, or if the results would alter treatment. BMBx remains recommended for staging of other histologies, primarily if it will impact therapy. PET-CT will be used to assess response in FDG-avid histologies using the 5-point scale, and included in new PET-based response criteria, but CT should be used in non-avid histologies. The definition of PD can be based on a single node, but must consider the potential for flare reactions seen early in treatment with newer targeted agents which can mimic disease progression. Routine surveillance scans are strongly discouraged, and the number of scans should be minimized in practice and in clinical trials, when not a direct study question. Hopefully, these recommendations will improve the conduct of clinical trials and patient management.