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MP 6.01.26 Oncologic Applications of PET Scanning

Medical Policy    
Section
Radiology
 
Original Policy Date
4/30/00
Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature/2:2013
Issue
2:2013
  Return to Medical Policy Index

Disclaimer

Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract.  Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage.  Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically. 


Description

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are based on the use of positron-emitting radionuclide tracers coupled to organic molecules, such as glucose, ammonia, or water. The radionuclide tracers simultaneously emit 2 high-energy photons in opposite directions that can be simultaneously detected (referred to as coincidence detection) by a PET scanner, consisting of multiple stationary detectors that encircle the area of interest.

Background

A variety of tracers are used for PET scanning, including oxygen-15, nitrogen-13, carbon-11, and fluorine-18. Because of their short half-life, some tracers must be made locally using an onsite cyclotron. The radiotracer most commonly used in oncology imaging has been fluorine-18 coupled with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which has a metabolism related to glucose metabolism. FDG has been considered useful in cancer imaging, since tumor cells show increased metabolism of glucose. The most common malignancies studied have been melanoma, lymphoma, lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer.

For this policy, PET scanning is discussed for the following 4 applications in oncology.

Diagnosis. Diagnosis refers to use of PET as part of the testing used in establishing whether or not a patient hascancer.

Staging. This refers to use of PET to determine the stage (extent) of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, before any treatment is given. Imaging at this time is generally to determine whether or not the cancer is localized. This may also be referred to as initial staging.

Restaging. Thisrefers to imaging followingtreatment in 2 situations.Restagingis part of the evaluation ofa patient in whom a disease recurrence is suspected based on signs and/or symptoms. Restaging also includes determining the extent of malignancy following completion of a full course of treatment.

Surveillance. This refers to use of imaging in asymptomatic patients (patients without objective signs or symptoms of recurrent disease). This imaging is completed 6 months or more (12 months or more for lymphoma) following completion of treatment.

Important Note:

This policy only addresses the use of radiotracers detected with the use of dedicated PET scanners. Radiotracers such as FDG may be detected using SPECT cameras, a technique that may be referred to as FDG-single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging. The use of SPECT cameras for PET radiotracers presents unique issues of diagnostic performance and is considered separately in policy No. 6.01.27.


Policy

 

Notes:

1 - All policy statements apply to both positron emission tomography (PET) scans and PET/computed tomography (CT) scans, i.e., PET scans with or without PET/CT fusion.

2 - For the clinical situations indicated that may be considered medically necessary, this is with the assumption that the results of the PET scan will influence treatment decisions. If the results will not influence treatment decisions, these situations would be considered not medically necessary.

Bone Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the staging of Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma.

PET scanning is considered investigational in the staging of chondrosarcoma.

Breast Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the staging and restaging of breast cancer for the following application:

  • Detecting locoregional or distant recurrence or metastasis (except axillary lymph nodes) when suspicion of disease is high and other imaging is inconclusive.

PET scanning is considered investigational in the evaluation of breast cancer for all other applications, including but not limited to the following:

  • Differential diagnosis in patients with suspicious breast lesions or an indeterminate/low suspicion finding on mammography
  • Staging axillary lymph nodes.
  • Predicting pathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy for locally advanced disease.

Cervical Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the initial staging of patients with locally advanced cervical cancer.

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the evaluation of known or suspected recurrence.

Colorectal Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary as a technique for

  • Staging and restaging to detect and assess resectability of hepatic or extrahepatic metastases of colorectal cancer, and
  • To evaluate a rising and persistently elevated carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level when standard imaging, including CT scan, is negative.

PET scanning is considered investigational as:

  • A technique to assess the presence of scarring versus local bowel recurrence in patients with previously resected colorectal cancer
  • A technique contributing to radiotherapy treatment planning.

Esophageal Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the

  • Staging of esophageal cancer, and
  • Determining response to preoperative induction therapy.

PET scanning is considered investigational in other aspects of the evaluation of esophageal cancer, including but not limited to the following applications:

  • Detection of primary esophageal cancer.

Head and Neck Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the evaluation of head and neck cancer in the diagnosis of suspected cancer, initial staging of disease, and restaging of residual or recurrent disease during follow up.

Lung Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary for any of the following applications:

  • Patients with a solitary pulmonary nodule as a single scan technique (not dual-time) to distinguish between benign and malignant disease when prior CT scan and chest x-ray findings are inconclusive or discordant,
  • As staging or restaging technique in those with known non-small cell lung cancer, and
  • To determine resectability for patients with a presumed solitary metastatic lesion from lung cancer.

PET scanning is considered investigational in staging of small cell lung cancer.

Lymphoma, Including Hodgkin’s Disease:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary as a technique for staging lymphoma either during initial staging or for restaging at follow-up.

Melanoma:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary as a technique for assessing extranodal spread of malignant melanoma at initial staging or at restaging during follow-up treatment.

PET scanning is considered investigational as a technique to detect regional lymph node metastases in patients with clinically localized melanoma who are candidates to undergo sentinel node biopsy.

Ovarian Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the evaluation of patients with signs and/or symptoms of suspected ovarian cancer recurrence (restaging) when standard imaging, including CT scan, is inconclusive.

PET scanning is considered investigational in the initial evaluation of known or suspected ovarian cancer in all situations.

Pancreatic Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the initial diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer when other imaging and biopsy are inconclusive.

PET scanning is considered investigational as a technique to evaluate other aspects of pancreatic cancer.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma:

PET scanning is considered investigational in evaluation of soft tissue sarcoma, including but not limited to the following applications:

  • Distinguishing between benign lesions and malignant soft tissue sarcoma
  • Distinguishing between low grade and high grade soft tissue sarcoma
  • Detecting locoregional recurrence
  • Detecting distant metastasis
  • Evaluating response to imatinib and other treatments for gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

 

Testicular Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in evaluation of residual mass following chemotherapy of stage IIB and III seminomas. (The PET scan should be completed not sooner than 6 weeks following chemotherapy.)

Except as noted above for seminoma, PET scanning is considered investigational in evaluation of testicular cancer, including but not limited to the following applications:

  • Initial staging of testicular cancer
  • Distinguishing between viable tumor and necrosis/fibrosis after treatment of testicular cancer
  • Detection of recurrent disease after treatment of testicular cancer

Thyroid Cancer:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in the restaging of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer when thyroglobulin (Tg) levels are elevated and whole-body I-131 imaging is negative.

PET scanning is considered investigational in the evaluation of known or suspected differentiated or poorly differentiated thyroid cancer in all other situations.

Unknown Primary:

PET scanning may be considered medically necessary in patients with an unknown primary who meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • In patients with a single site of disease outside the cervical lymph nodes; AND
  • Patient is considering local or regional treatment for a single site of metastatic disease; AND
  • After a negative workup for an occult primary tumor; AND
  • PET scan will be used to rule out or detect additional sites of disease that would eliminate the rationale for local or regional treatment.

PET scanning is considered investigational for other indications in patients with an unknown primary, including, but not limited to the following:

  • As part of the initial workup of an unknown primary
  • As part of the workup of patients with multiple sites of disease

Cancer Surveillance:

PET scanning is considered investigational when used as a surveillance tool for patients with cancer or with a history of cancer. A scan is considered surveillance if performed more than 6 months after completion of cancer therapy (12 months for lymphoma) in patients without objective signs or symptoms suggestive of cancer recurrence. Also, see Policy Guidelines.

Other Oncologic Applications:

Other oncologic applications of PET scanning, including but not limited to the following, are considered investigational:

  • Diagnosis and management of known or suspected prostate cancer
  • Diagnosis of brain tumors
  • Restaging of gastric cancer
  • Staging of multiple myeloma
  • Evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors
  • Staging inguinal lymph nodes in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis.

 


Policy Guidelines

Patient Selection Issues

As with any imaging technique, the medical necessity of positron emission tomography (PET) scanning depends in part on what imaging techniques are used either before or after the PET scanning. Due to its expense, PET scanning is typically considered after other techniques, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasonography, provide inconclusive or discordant results. In patients with melanoma or lymphoma, PET scanning may be considered an initial imaging technique. If so, the medical necessity of subsequent imaging during the same diagnostic evaluation is unclear. Thus, PET should be considered for the medically necessary indications above only when standard imaging, such as CT or MRI, is inconclusive or not indicated.

The patient selection criteria for PET scanning may also be complex. For example, it may be difficult to determine from claims data whether a PET scan in a patient with malignant melanoma is being done primarily to evaluate extranodal disease or the regional lymph nodes. Similarly, it may be difficult to determine whether a PET scan in a patient with colorectal cancer is being performed to detect hepatic disease or evaluate local recurrence. Due to the complicated hierarchy of imaging options in patients with malignancy and complex patient selection criteria, one possible implementation strategy for this policy is its use for retrospective review, possibly focusing on cases with multiple imaging tests, including PET scans.

Use of PET scanning for surveillance as described in the policy statement and policy rationale refers to use of PET to detect disease in asymptomatic patients at various intervals. This is not the same as use of PET for detecting recurrent disease in symptomatic patients; these applications of PET are considered within tumor-specific categories of the policy statements.

Coding Issues

A PET scan essentially involves 3 separate activities: 1) manufacture of the radiopharmaceutical, which may be manufactured on site, or manufactured at a regional delivery center with delivery to the institution performing PET; 2) actual performance of the PET scan; and 3) interpretation of the results. The following CPT codes and HCPCS codes are available to code for PET scans:

CPT codes:

Effective in 2005, 78810 was deleted and new CPT codes became effective.

78811: Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging; limited area (e.g., chest, head/neck)

78812: Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging; skull base to mid-thigh

78813: Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging; whole body

Also starting in 2005, there are codes for concurrently acquired PET and computed tomography or CT:

78814: Positron emission tomography (PET) with concurrently acquired computed tomography (CT) for attenuation correction and anatomical localization imaging; limited area (e.g., chest, head/neck)

78815: Positron emission tomography (PET) with concurrently acquired computed tomography (CT) for attenuation correction and anatomical localization imaging; skull base to mid-thigh

78816: Positron emission tomography (PET) with concurrently acquired computed tomography (CT) for attenuation correction and anatomical localization imaging: whole body

When the radiopharmaceutical is provided by an outside distribution center, there may be an additional separate charge, or this charge may be passed through and included in the hospital bill. In addition, an extra transportation charge will be likely for radiopharmaceuticals that are not manufactured on site.

HCPCS Codes:

CMS maintained a couple of HCPCS codes for Medicare non-covered indications:

G0219: PET imaging whole body; melanoma for non-covered indications

G0235: PET imaging, any site not otherwise specified

G0252: PET imaging, full and partial-ring PET scanners only, for initial diagnosis of breast cancer and/or surgical planning for breast cancer (e.g., initial staging of axillary lymph nodes)

CMS added 2 new modifiers in July 2009 to facilitate the changes in the Medicare national coverage policy for PET. The modifiers are:

PI - Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/computed tomography (CT) to inform the initial treatment strategy of tumors that are biopsy proven or strongly suspected of being cancerous based on other diagnostic testing, one percancer diagnosis

PS -Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/computed tomography (CT) to inform the subsequent treatment strategy of canceroustumors when the beneficiary's treating physician determines that the PET study is needed to inform subsequent anti-tumor strategy

There are HCPCS codes specific to a few of the radiotracers used for PET:

A9552: Fluorodeoxyglucose F-18 FDG, diagnostic, per study dose, up to 45 millicuries

A9526: Nitrogen N-13 AMMONIA, diagnostic, per study dose, up to 40 millicuries

A9580: Sodium fluoride F-18, diagnostic, per study dose, up to 30 millicuries


Benefit Application
BlueCard/National Account Issues

State or federal mandates (e.g., FEP) may dictate that all devices, drugs or biologics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.

Regulatory Status

In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Modernization Act (FDAMA) attempted to resolve the controversy regarding positron emission tomography (PET) scans first by establishing FDA authority over the safety and effectiveness of locally manufactured radiotracers and second by developing streamlined regulations for good manufacturing practices (GMP) with which each PET facility must comply.

The FDA issued a notice in the Federal Register on March 10, 2000, summarizing the regulatory history of PET radiotracers and highlighting its decisions on safety and effectiveness for certain uses of certain PET radiotracers. The FDA conducted a literature review and Advisory Committee meetings to discuss the following uses:

  • 18F-FDG for evaluation of glucose metabolism in oncology
  • 18F-FDG for evaluation of myocardial hibernation
  • 13N-ammonia for evaluation of myocardial blood flow
  • 15O-water for assessment of cerebral perfusion

However, only the first three of these were subsequently approved by the FDA. There have been no additional approvals specific to oncologic PET.

A draft guidance document for Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) requirements was issued on April 1, 2002; though as of October 2003, regulatory procedures had not yet been finalized.

An FDA Web page includes various PET-related documents: www.fda.gov/cder/regulatory/PET


Rationale

This policy is based on multiple evaluations of positron emission tomography (PET), including TEC Assessments, other systematic reviews, meta-analyses, decision analyses, and cost-effectiveness analyses. From the perspective of evidence-based medicine, overall, the literature on use of PET scanning in oncology is quite limited. There are few rigorous studies that assess the impact of PET on clinical outcomes. The majority of the studies that report on outcomes describe changes in staging and/or treatment that result from the PET scan; however, the studies do not evaluate whether or not these changes result in an improvement in the net health outcome.

A 1997 TEC Assessment considered the use of PET scanning in the evaluation of solitary pulmonary nodules and staging of known lung cancer. (1) A 2006 evidence report by TEC for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) addressed use of PET for staging small cell lung cancer (SCLC). (2) Three 1999 TEC Assessments (3-5) and one 2000 TEC Assessment (6) considered the use of PET scanning in the evaluation of melanoma, lymphoma, colorectal, and head and neck cancer. TEC Assessments from 2000 and 2002 addressed unknown primaries. (6, 7) One 2001 TEC Assessment, a 2002 decision analysis, and a 2005 systematic review focused on esophageal cancer. (8-10) Pancreatic cancer was evaluated in a 1999 TEC Assessment and the 2004 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) systematic review. (11, 12) The 2004 AHRQ systematic review also focused on ovarian cancer, as well as testicular cancer. Soft tissue sarcoma was the subject of a 2002 AHRQ systematic review. (13) Breast cancer was the focus of 2 TEC Assessments from 2001 and 2003, a systematic review from 2005, a systematic review from 2007, and a cost-effectiveness analysis from 2005. (14-18) Several uses of PET were reviewed in National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Task Force documents released in 2007 and 2009. (19, 20) Another AHRQ systematic review evaluating use of PET for 9 cancers was published in 2008. (21) Systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in 2011 and 2012 address 10 indications for 9 malignancies (22, 12, 23-35). In the Assessments, PET scanning was considered an adjunct to other imaging methods (i.e., computed tomography [CT], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], ultrasonography) often used when previous imaging studies are inconclusive or provide discordant results. In this setting, the clinical value of PET scans is the rate of discordance among imaging techniques and the percentage of time that PET scanning results in the correct diagnosis, as confirmed by tissue biopsy. The Assessments and other reviews offered the following observations and conclusions:

Bone Cancer

A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the diagnostic accuracy of PET in Ewing sarcoma showed very high estimates of sensitivity and specificity (pooled sensitivity 96%, pooled specificity 92%). (36) Another study of PET in pediatric sarcoma (Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma) patients in which PET was used in addition to conventional imaging showed that PET was superior to conventional imaging in detecting lymph node and bone involvement. (37) The most thorough assessment of cancer involvement involved using both PET and conventional tests and produced important changes in therapy decisions.

There are very few studies examining the utility of PET in chondrosarcoma.

Brain Tumors

A systematic review and meta-analysis addressed use of fluorine-18 fluoro-ethyl-tyrosine (FET) in detecting primary brain tumors (22). While it used a sophisticated meta-analytic method, it did not compare use of 18F-FET PET with another imaging modality for diagnosis of brain tumors, so no conclusions can be reached about comparative effectiveness.

Breast Cancer

The 2001 TEC Assessment (14) focused on multiple applications of PET scanning in breast cancer, including characterization of breast lesions, staging axillary lymph nodes, detection of recurrence, and evaluating response to treatment. The 2003 TEC Assessment (15) re-examined all of the above indications except for its role in characterizing breast lesions.

  • The bulk of the data regarding PET scanning for breast cancer focuses on its use as a technique to further characterize breast lesions such that patients could avoid biopsy of a mammographically indeterminate or suspicious lesion. The key statistic in this analysis is the false-negative rate, since patients with a false-negative result on a PET scan may inappropriately forego a biopsy and subsequent treatment. The false-negative rate will vary with the underlying prevalence of the disease, but may range from 5.5% to 8.5%. Given the relative ease of breast biopsy, this false-negative rate may be considered unacceptable, and thus patients may undergo biopsy regardless of the results of a PET scan.
  • A 2005 systematic review and meta-analysis (16) focused on use of PET for detecting recurrence and metastases. The report concluded that PET is a valuable tool; however, it did not compare PET performance with that of other diagnostic modalities, so it is unclear if PET results in different management decisions and health outcomes.

A systematic review published in 2007 (18) on use of PET for staging axillary lymph nodes identified 20 studies. Of these, 3 studies were rated with the highest quality grade, corresponding to broad generalizability to a variety of patients and no significant flaws in research methods. The remaining studies were more flawed and/or were more narrowly generalizable. The review observed that there was great variability in estimates of sensitivity and specificity from the selected studies and that it is difficult to draw conclusions from the evidence. A National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) review of PET (19) concluded that PET was useful in staging and restaging regional or distant metastasis when the suspicion was high and other imaging inconclusive.

Two meta-analyses pooled studies on use of FDG PET to predict pathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy before surgery for locally advanced breast cancer (24, 33). These articles report similar pooled point estimates of both sensitivity and specificity. They both concluded that PET has reasonably high sensitivity and relatively low specificity. Neither article describes how PET should be used to influence patient management decisions and therefore whether health outcomes would be changed relative to decisions not based on PET results. Thus, it is unclear whether PET improves outcomes for predicting pathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy for locally advanced breast cancer.

Cervical Cancer

An AHRQ review published in 2008 identified several studies in which PET or PET/CT was used in the staging of advanced cervical cancer and for detection and staging of recurrent disease. (21) The report concluded that the majority of studies supported enhanced diagnostic accuracy, which would improve the selection of appropriate treatment for patients. For recurrent disease, PET identifies additional sites of metastasis which would alter treatment decisions in some cases. For example in a study by Yen et al (38) of 55 patients whose recurrences were initially considered curable with radical surgical treatment, 27 instead underwent palliative therapy based on PET results. An NCCN Task Force Report on PET (20) also identifies several studies that support use of PET for initial staging and identification and staging of recurrent disease.

Colorectal Cancer

  • Two clinical applications of PET scanning were considered in the TEC Assessment: 1) To detect hepatic or extrahepatic metastases and to assess their resectability in patients with colorectal cancer, either as part of initial staging or after primary resection, and 2) to evaluate the presence of postoperative scar versus recurrent disease as a technique to determine the necessity of tissue biopsy.
  • The body of evidence indicates that PET scanning adds useful information to conventional imaging in detecting hepatic and extrahepatic metastases. In particular, PET can detect additional metastases leading to more identification of non-resectable disease, allowing patients to avoid surgery. The strongest evidence comes from a study that directly assessed the additional value of PET. In a group of 37 patients thought to have solitary liver metastases by conventional imaging, PET correctly upstaged 4 patients and falsely overstaged 1 patient. This study and another further found that, when PET is discordant with conventional imaging, PET is correct in 88% and 97%, respectively, of patients. When PET affects management decisions, it is more often used to recommend against surgery.
  • When used to distinguish between local recurrence and scar, the comparison is between performing histologic sampling in all patients with a suspected local recurrence and avoiding sampling in patients whose PET scans suggest the presence of postoperative scar. The key concern is whether the negative predictive value for PET is sufficiently high to influence decision making, specifically to avoid tissue biopsy when the PET scan is negative. The available studies suggest a probability of false negative results of 8%, making it unlikely that patients and physicians would be willing to forgo histologic sampling and delay potentially curative repeat resection.
  • Further support for the indication of staging and detection of recurrence of colon cancer was reviewed in an NCCN review on the use of PET scanning (19) . A rising carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level is another indication that may be considered medically necessary.
  • A systematic review of different imaging techniques for radiotherapy treatment planning of rectal cancer concluded that additional studies are needed to validate use of PET in this setting. (25)

Esophageal Cancer

  • Regarding initial diagnosis, PET is generally not considered a test for detecting primary esophageal tumors, and evidence is lacking on its use to differentiate between esophageal cancer and benign conditions.

An NCCN Task Force report found studies showing that PET is more sensitive than other diagnostic imaging in detecting stage IV disease with distant lymph node involvement. A meta-analysis described in the report found a 67% pooled sensitivity, 97% specificity, and small added value after conventional staging in detecting distant metastasis. (20)

Another use of PET in esophageal cancer is in determining whether to continue chemotherapy for potential curative resection. The NCCN Task Force Report describes several studies in which response to chemotherapy as defined as a decline in standardized uptake values (SUV) correlated with long-term survival. (20) Patients who do not respond to chemotherapy may benefit by this test by being spared futile and toxic chemotherapy. However, this treatment strategy of PET-directed chemotherapy does not appear to have been validated with randomized clinical trials showing improved overall health outcomes.

Gastric Cancer

A systematic review and meta-analysis pooled 9 studies on evaluating recurrent gastric cancer. (34) The meta-analysis used methods that do not adequately account for dependence of sensitivity and specificity, nor do they adequately handle covariates that might explain between-study heterogeneity. It concluded that PET combined with CT may be more effective than either modality alone, but the data presented do not support this conclusion.

Head and Neck Cancer

  • Among the 3 studies identified in the TEC Assessment that used other diagnostic modalities to attempt to identify a primary tumor in patients with positive cervical lymph nodes, PET found more primary tumors than other modalities in 2 studies and identified similar proportions in 1 study. (6) When data from these 3 studies are pooled, PET was found to identify tumor in 38% of cases and other modalities found tumor in 21% of cases.
  • When PET is used to initially stage the cervical lymph nodes (i.e., the status of the cervical nodes is unknown), the addition of PET to other imaging modalities increased the proportion of patients who were correctly staged, as confirmed histologically. When compared head to head with other imaging modalities, the pooled data from a variety of studies suggested that PET had a better diagnostic performance compared to CT and MRI.
  • Of 8 studies focusing on the use of PET to detect residual or recurrent disease, 5 found PET to be more specific and sensitive, 2 reported mixed or equivalent results, and 1 reported worse results compared to CT.

Lung Cancer

  • PET scanning may have a clinical role in patients with solitary pulmonary lung nodules in whom the diagnosis is uncertain after prior CT scan and chest x-ray. Patients who are relatively young and have no smoking history are at a relatively low risk for lung cancer, and in this setting the negative predictive value of a PET scan is relatively high. If presented with a negative PET scan and information about the very low probability of undetected malignancy, it is quite likely that some patients would choose to avoid the harms of an invasive sampling procedure (i.e., biopsy). A meta-analysis on evaluating pulmonary nodules using dual-time PET (a second scan added after a delay) found that its additive value relative to a single PET scan is questionable. (35)
  • In patients with known non-small cell lung cancer, the clinical value of PET scanning relates to improved staging information regarding the involvement of mediastinal lymph nodes, which generally excludes patients from surgical excision. The TEC Assessment (1) cited a decision-analysis study that suggested that the use of CT plus PET scanning in staging the mediastinal lymph nodes resulted in fewer surgeries and an average gain in life expectancy of 2.96 days. The gain in life expectancy suggests that avoidance of surgery was not harmful to the patients in that potentially beneficial surgery was not withheld on the basis of false-positive imaging results.
  • A NCCN report on the use of PET scanning (19) supports an indication for patients who are suspected to have solitary metastases who may be candidates for surgical resection. In such patients, the test may detect additional metastases, which would rule out or change the extent of planned surgery.
  • Six studies of patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) reported evidence suggesting that for non-brain metastases, PET added to conventional staging is more sensitive in detecting disease than conventional staging alone. (2) PET may correctly upstage and downstage disease, and studies reported very high occurrence of patient management changes that were attributed to PET. However, the quality of these studies is consistently poor, and insufficient detail in reporting was the norm, especially with respect to the reference standard. A systematic review of staging SCLC found PET to be more effective than conventional staging methods; however, this review was heavily flawed by not conducting a quality assessment of individual studies, so its conclusions may not be sound. (27) It is not possible from the limited and poor quality evidence that is available to determine whether the use of PET adds value relative to conventional staging tests for SCLC.

Lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s disease

  • Of the 14 available studies reviewed in the TEC Assessment, (4) 3 compared PET with anatomic imaging in initial staging and restaging of patients with Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Two of these studies included data from both diseased and nondiseased sites for PET and CT. Both studies found PET to have better overall diagnostic accuracy than CT. The third study addressed detection of diseased sites only and found PET to have the same sensitivity as use of CT or MRI. Among the 6 studies that reported on concordance between PET and other imaging modalities, PET was discordant with other modalities in 11% to 50%, PET was correct among discordances in 40% to 75%. PET has been reported to affect patient management decisions in 8–20% of patients in 5 studies mainly by correctly upstaging disease, but also by correctly downstaging disease. Thus when PET is added to conventional imaging, it can provide useful information for selective effective treatment that is appropriate to the correct stage of disease.

Melanoma

  • Surgical resection for melanoma is limited to those with local disease. Patients with widespread disease are not candidates for resection. Frequently, there is microscopic spread to the proximal lymph nodes. Therefore, patients with a high risk of nodal spread, as assessed by the thickness of the primary melanoma, may be candidates for lymph node sampling, termed sentinel node biopsy. PET scanning has been investigated both as a technique to detect widespread disease as part of an initial staging procedure, and also to evaluate the status of the local lymph nodes to determine the necessity of sentinel node biopsy.
  • To consider PET a useful alternative to sentinel node biopsy, it must have high sensitivity and specificity when either sentinel node biopsy or lymph node dissection serves as the reference standard. In the only study of this kind, PET had a sensitivity of only 17%, suggesting that PET rarely detects small metastases that can be discovered by sentinel node biopsy. Thus the TEC Assessment concluded that PET is not as beneficial as sentinel node biopsy in assessing regional lymph nodes. (3)
  • The intent of using PET to detect extranodal metastases is to aid in selecting treatment appropriate to the patient’s extent of disease. For example, surgical resection is typically not appropriate for widespread disease. A prospective blinded study of 100 patients found that PET was much more sensitive and specific than conventional imaging. Another prospective study of 76 patients found that, compared to CT, PET had much higher sensitivity and equivalent specificity. A third comparative study of 35 patients found that PET was much more sensitive than CT. It may be inferred from these studies that PET was usually correct when discordant with other modalities. PET affects management in approximately 18% of patients.

Multiple Myeloma

Two systematic reviews, one of which also conducted a meta-analysis, addressed PET for staging of multiple myeloma. (26, 32) Neither report compared the diagnostic performance of PET with other imaging modalities, so they do not support conclusions about comparative effectiveness.

Neuroendocrine Tumors

Two meta-analyses from the same investigators addressed use of PET in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). (29, 30) One report included patients with thoracic and gastroenteropancreatic NETs who had imaging with PET using gallium-68 somatostatin receptor (SMSR) radiotracers. (29) The other article included studies of paragangliomas scanned by PET with fluorine-18 dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA). (30) Neither study compared PET with other imaging modalities, precluding conclusions about comparative diagnostic performance.

Ovarian Cancer

  • For primary evaluation, i.e., in patients with suspected ovarian cancer, the ability to rule out malignancy with a high negative predictive value would change management by avoiding unnecessary exploratory surgery. However, available studies suggest that PET scanning has poorer negative predictive value compared to other options, including transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS), Doppler studies, or MRI. Adding PET scanning to TVUS or MRI did not improve results.
  • Positive predictive value is of greatest importance in evaluating patients with known ovarian cancer, either to detect disease recurrence or progression or monitor response to treatment. While the 2004 AHRQ systematic review (12) suggested that PET may have value for detecting recurrence when CA125 is elevated and conventional imaging does not clearly show recurrence, this had not been demonstrated in an adequately powered prospective study. A 2008 AHRQ systematic review found that the evidence supported the use of PET/CT in detecting recurrent ovarian cancer. (21) The evidence for initial diagnosis and staging of ovarian cancer was still inconclusive.

Pancreatic Cancer

  • Both the 2004 AHRQ systematic review (12) and the 1999 TEC Assessment (11) focused on 2 clinical applications of PET scanning in patients with known or suspected pancreatic cancer: the use of PET to distinguish between benign or malignant pancreatic masses, and the use of PET as a staging technique in patients with known pancreatic cancer.
  • In terms of distinguishing between benign and malignant disease, the gold standard is percutaneous or open biopsy. If PET were to be used to allow patients with scans suggesting benign masses to avoid biopsy, a very high negative predictive value would be required. The key statistic underlying the negative predictive value is the false-negative rate. Patients with false-negative results are incorrectly assumed to have benign disease and are thus not promptly treated for pancreatic cancer. Based on the literature review, the negative predictive value ranged between 75% and 92%, depending on an underlying prevalence of disease ranging from 50–75%. The Assessment concluded that this level of diagnostic performance would not be adequate to recommend against biopsy. The 2004 AHRQ report found that PET was sometimes found to be more accurate than other modalities, but the meta-analysis stated that it is unclear whether PET’s diagnostic performance surpasses decision thresholds for biopsy or laparotomy. (12)
  • In both the TEC Assessment and AHRQ systematic review, there were inadequate data to permit conclusions regarding the role of PET scanning as a technique to stage known pancreatic cancer.
  • The AHRQ review published in 2008 and NCCN guidelines on pancreatic carcinoma suggest that PET/CT may be useful for staging in certain patients when the standard staging protocol is inconclusive. (20, 21)

Penile Cancer

A systematic review and meta-analysis of PET focused on staging inguinal lymph nodes among patients with penile squamous cell carcinoma. No comparisons were made with other imaging modalities. The report found that PET had low sensitivity and authors concluded that PET is not suited for routine clinical use. (28)

Prostate Cancer

Both an NCCN Task Force Report (20) and an AHRQ systematic review (21) do not find sufficient evidence to support use of PET for any indication in patients with prostate cancer. Reports show significant overlap between benign prostatic hyperplasia, malignant tumor, local recurrence, and postoperative scarring. PET may have limited sensitivity in detecting distant metastatic disease. The AHRQ report identified only 4 studies of PET for the indications of restaging and recurrence, none of which addressed the effect of PET on management decisions.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

  • A 2002 AHRQ systematic review on use of PET for soft tissue sarcoma (13) evaluated 5 applications: distinguishing between benign lesions and malignant soft tissue sarcoma, distinguishing between low-grade and high-grade soft tissue sarcoma, detecting locoregional recurrence, detecting distant metastases, and evaluating response to therapy.
  • The review found that PET has low diagnostic accuracy in distinguishing low-grade tumors from benign lesions. PET performs better at differentiating high- or intermediate-grade tumors from low-grade tumors; however, it is unclear whether this will have an impact on management decisions and health outcomes. Evidence is insufficient on the comparative diagnostic performance of PET and alternative diagnostic modalities in the diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma, detection of locoregional recurrence, detection of distant metastasis, and evaluating response to therapy.
  • A systematic review looked at PET for evaluating response to imatinib and other treatments for gastrointestinal stromal tumors. (31) The report lacked a fundamental feature of well-performed systematic review: appraisal of the methodologic quality of individual studies. The review also lacked comparison of decision making and outcomes of PET-guided management with management guided without PET.

Testicular Cancer

  • The 2004 AHRQ systematic review (12) found 1 prospective study and 4 retrospective studies that generally showed higher sensitivity and specificity for PET over CT. However these studies were small in size and failed to report separate results for patients with seminoma versus those with non-seminoma. Studies also failed to report separate results by clinical stage of disease. Thus, it is unclear whether this evidence translates to changes in patient management and improved health outcomes.
  • Studies on distinguishing between viable tumor and necrosis/fibrosis after treatment of testicular cancer were flawed in 2 main ways. First, most studies did not compare the diagnostic accuracy of PET with other imaging modalities. Second, studies that did compare PET and CT did not state a clear threshold for a positive CT test, making study results difficult to interpret. Therefore, it is uncertain whether use of PET leads to different patient management decisions and health outcomes than other imaging modalities.

An AHRQ technology assessment published in 2008 (21) and studies evaluating residual masses in patients after chemotherapy for seminoma support the use of PET. (39, 40) NCCN guidelines support the use of PET for this indication. (40)

Thyroid Cancer, Differentiated

The NCCN Task Force Report on PET reviewed studies which showed that PET can localize recurrent disease when other imaging tests are negative. (20) In addition, PET is a predictor of prognosis in this setting. More metabolically active lesions on PET are strongly correlated with survival.

Thyroid Cancer, Poorly Differentiated

A meta-analysis of studies on detecting recurrent or metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma did not compare PET with other imaging modalities and did not clearly perform quality assessment of individual studies or incorporate study quality concerns into conclusions. (23)

Unknown Primary

  • The 2002 TEC Assessment (7) concluded that the TEC criteria were met for the limited indication of the workup and management of patients with unknown primaries and a single site of metastatic disease. Specifically, local or regional therapy may be offered to these patients. In this setting, PET scanning may be used to verify the absence of disseminated disease.
  • Regarding this application, the TEC Assessment identified 4 reports, including a total of 47 patients referred for imaging with a single known metastatic site from an unknown primary. In 13 (28%) of these patients, PET scanning identified previously undetected metastases that were confirmed by biopsy. Therefore, the use of PET can contribute to optimal decision making regarding the appropriateness of local or regional therapy.

Cancer Surveillance

The clinical utility for PET scanning in surveillance, i.e., in performing follow-up PET scans in asymptomatic patients to detect early disease recurrence, is not well-studied. (For this policy, a scan is considered a surveillance scan if performed more than 6 months following therapy, but 12 months for lymphoma.) The most recent NCCN publication (20) indicates, “The use of PET as a surveillance tool should only be used in clinical trials.” In addition, the NCCN guidelines for various malignancies often note that PET scans are not recommended in asymptomatic patients. For example the NCCN breast cancer guidelines comment that PET scans (as well as many other modalities) provide no advantage in survival or ability to palliate recurrent disease and are not recommended. (41)

Other Malignancies

There are inadequate scientific data to permit conclusions regarding the role of PET scanning in other malignancies.

Clinical Input from Academic Medical Centers and Specialty Societies

None

Summary

The utility of positron emission tomography (PET) scanning for the diagnosis and staging of malignancies varies by specific type of cancer. In general, PET scanning can be useful for distinguishing benign from malignant masses in certain circumstances and for increasing the accuracy of staging by detecting additional disease not detected by other imaging modalities. Therefore, PET scanning for diagnosis and staging of malignancies can be considered medically necessary when specific criteria are met for specific cancers, as outlined in the policy statement. For follow-up after the initial diagnosis and staging has been performed, or for tumor surveillance, the clinical utility is uncertain and this use of PET scanning is considered investigational.

Medicare National Coverage

The Medicare coverage policy regarding PET scans (42) that was updated in 2009 is summarized in the Appendix.

References:

  1. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography for Non-CNS Cancers. TEC Assessments 1997; Volume 12, Tab 2.
  2. Seidenfeld J, Samson DJ, Bonnell CJ et al. Management of small cell lung cancer. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2006; (143):1-154.
  3. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography in Melanoma. TEC Assessments 1999; Volume 14, Tab 27.
  4. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography in Lymphoma. TEC Assessments 1999; Volume 14, Tab 26.
  5. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography in Colorectal Cancer. TEC Assessments 1999; Volume 14, Tab 25.
  6. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography in Head and Neck Cancer. TEC Assessments 2000; Volume 15, Tab 4.
  7. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography to Manage Patients with an Occult Primary Carcinoma and Metastasis outside the Cervical Lymph Nodes. TEC Assessments 2002; Volume 17, Tab 14.
  8. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography for Evaluating Esophageal Cancer. TEC Assessments 2001; Volume 16, Tab 21.
  9. Wallace MB, Nietert PJ, Earle C et al. An analysis of multiple staging management strategies for carcinoma of the esophagus: Computed tomography, endoscopic ultrasound, positron emission tomography, and thoracoscopy/laparoscopy. Ann Thorac Surg 2002; 74(4):1026-32.
  10. Westerterp M, van WHL, Hoekstra OS et al. Esophageal cancer: CT, endoscopic US, and FDG PET for assessment of response to neoadjuvant therapy – systematic review. Radiology 2005; 236(3):841-51.
  11. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography in Pancreatic Cancer. TEC Assessments 1999; Volume 14, Tab 28.
  12. Matchar DB, Kulasingam SL, Havrilesky L. Positron Emission Testing for Six Cancers (Brain, Cervical, Small Cell Lung, Ovarian, Pancreatic and Testicular), (Technology Assessment). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2004.
  13. Ioannidis JPA, Lau J. FDG-PET for the Diagnosis and Management of Soft Tissue Sarcoma (Technology Assessment). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2002.
  14. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). Positron Emission Tomography in Breast Cancer. TEC Assessments 2001; Volume 16, Tab 5.
  15. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). FDG Positron Emission Tomography for Evaluating Breast Cancer. TEC Assessments 2003; Volume 18, Tab 14.
  16. Isasi CR, Moadel RM, Blaufox D. A meta-analysis of FDG-PET for the evaluation of breast cancer recurrence and metastases. Br Cancer Res Treatment 2005; 90(2-Jan):105-12.
  17. Sloka JS, Hollett PD, Mathews M. Cost-effectiveness of positron emission tomography in breast cancer. Mol Imaging Biol 2005; 7(5-Jan):351-60.
  18. Sloka JS, Hollett PD, Matthews M. A quantitative review of the use of FDG-PET in the axillary staging of breast cancer. Med Sci Monit 2007; 13(3):RA37-RA46.
  19. Podoloff DA, Advani RH, Allred C et al. NCCN task force report: positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scanning in cancer. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2007; 5(suppl 1):S1-22.
  20. Podoloff DA, Ball DW, Ben-Josef E et al. NCCN task force: clinical utility of PET in a variety of tumor types. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2009; 7(suppl 2):S1-26.
  21. Ospina MB, Horton J, Seida J et al. Positron emission tomography for nine cancers (bladder, brain, cervical, kidney, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, small cell lung, testicular). Technology Assessment Report Project ID: PETC1207. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2008.
  22. Dunet V, Rossier C, Buck A et al. Performance of 18F-fluoro-ethyl-tyrosine (18F-FET) PET for the differential diagnosis of primary brain tumor: a systematic review and Metaanalysis. J Nucl Med 2012; 53(2):207-14.
  23. Cheng X, Bao L, Xu Z et al. (1)(8)F-FDG-PET and (1)(8)F-FDG-PET/CT in the detection of recurrent or metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol 2012; 56(2):136-42.
  24. Cheng X, Li Y, Liu B et al. 18F-FDG PET/CT and PET for evaluation of pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer: a meta-analysis. Acta Radiol 2012; 53(6):615-27.
  25. Gwynne S, Mukherjee S, Webster R et al. Imaging for target volume delineation in rectal cancer radiotherapy--a systematic review. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2012; 24(1):52-63.
  26. Lu YY, Chen JH, Lin WY et al. FDG PET or PET/CT for detecting intramedullary and extramedullary lesions in multiple Myeloma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Nucl Med 2012; 37(9):833-7.
  27. Ruben JD, Ball DL. The efficacy of PET staging for small-cell lung cancer: a systematic review and cost analysis in the Australian setting. J Thorac Oncol 2012; 7(6):1015-20.
  28. Sadeghi R, Gholami H, Zakavi SR et al. Accuracy of 18F-FDG PET/CT for diagnosing inguinal lymph node involvement in penile squamous cell carcinoma: systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. Clin Nucl Med 2012; 37(5):436-41.
  29. Treglia G, Castaldi P, Rindi G et al. Diagnostic performance of Gallium-68 somatostatin receptor PET and PET/CT in patients with thoracic and gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours: a meta-analysis. Endocrine 2012; 42(1):80-7.
  30. Treglia G, Cocciolillo F, de Waure C et al. Diagnostic performance of 18F-dihydroxyphenylalanine positron emission tomography in patients with paraganglioma: a meta-analysis. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2012; 39(7):1144-53.
  31. Treglia G, Mirk P, Stefanelli A et al. 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography in evaluating treatment response to imatinib or other drugs in gastrointestinal stromal tumors: a systematic review. Clin Imaging 2012; 36(3):167-75.
  32. van Lammeren-Venema D, Regelink JC, Riphagen II et al. (1)(8)F-fluoro-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography in assessment of myeloma-related bone disease: a systematic review. Cancer 2012; 118(8):1971-81.
  33. Wang Y, Zhang C, Liu J et al. Is 18F-FDG PET accurate to predict neoadjuvant therapy response in breast cancer? A meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012; 131(2):357-69.
  34. Wu LM, Hu JN, Hua J et al. 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography to evaluate recurrent gastric cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012; 27(3):472-80.
  35. Barger RLJ, Nandalur KR. Diagnostic performance of dual-time 18F-FDG PET in the diagnosis of pulmonary nodules: a meta-analysis. Acad Radiol 2012; 19(2):153-8.
  36. Treglia G, Salsano M, Stefanelli A et al. Diagnostic accuracy of (18)?F-FDG-PET and PET/CT in patients with Ewing sarcoma family tumours: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. Skeletal Radiol 2012; 41(3):249-56.
  37. Völker T, Denecke T, Steffen I et al. Positron emission tomography for staging of pediatric sarcoma patients: results of a prospective multicenter trial. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25(3-Feb):5435-41.
  38. Yen TC, See LC, Chang TC et al. Defining the priority of using 18F-FDG PET for recurrent cervical cancer. J Nucl Med 2004; 45(10):1632-9.
  39. Becherer A, De SM, Karanikas G et al. FDG PET is superior to CT in the prediction of viable tumour in post-chemotherapy seminoma residuals. Eur J Radiol 2005; 54(2):284-8.
  40. NCCN. Testicular Cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. 2010;V.1.2010. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/testicular.pdf. Last accessed December 2009.
  41. NCCN. Breast Cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. 2010;V.1.2010. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/breast.pdf. Last accessed December 2009.
  42. CMS-NCD. Pub 100-03 Medicare National Coverage Determinations. CMS. Medicare National Coverage Determinations. 2010;Transmittal 124. http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Transmittals/downloads/R124NCD.pdf. Last accessed September 2010.

Codes

Number

Description

CPT 

 

See Policy Guidelines 

ICD-9 Procedure 

 

 

ICD-9 Diagnosis 

140 – 149.9

Malignant neoplasm of lip, oral cavity and pharynx code range

 

150.0-150.9 

Malignant neoplasm of esophagus code range

 

153.0-153.9

Malignant neoplasm of colon code range

  154.0 Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction (includes colon with rectum)

 

157.0-157.9

Malignant neoplasm of pancreas code range

  160.0-160.9 Malignant neoplasm of nasal cavities, middle ear and accessory sinuses code range
  161.0-161.9 Malignant neoplasm of larynx code range

 

162.2 – 162.9 

Malignant neoplasm, bronchus, lung code range

 

172.0-172.9

Malignant melanoma of skin code range

  174.0-174.9 Malignant neoplasm of female breast code range
  175.0-175.9 Malignant neoplasm of male breast code range
  180.0-180.9 Malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri code range
  183.0 Malignant neoplasm of ovary
  186.0-186.9 Malignant neoplasm of testis
  193 Malignant neoplasm of thyroid gland
  195.0 Malignant neoplasm of head, face and neck NOS

 

199.0-199.1

Malignant neoplasm without specification of site (unknown primary)

 

201.0-201.9

Hodgkin's disease code range

  202.0-202.8 Other malignant neoplasm of lymphoid tissue (other lymphomas)

HCPCS 

 

See Policy Guidelines 

ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/14) C00.0-C14.8 Malignant neoplasm of lip, oral cavity and pharynx code range
  C15.3-C15.9 Malignant neoplasm of esophagus code range
  C18.0-C18.9 Malignant neoplasm of colon code range
  C19 Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction (includes colon with rectum)
  C25.0-C25.9 Malignant neoplasm of pancreas code range
  C30.0-C31.9 Malignant neoplasm of nasal cavities, middle ear and accessory sinuses code range
  C32.0-C32.9 Malignant neoplasm of larynx code range
  C34.0-C34.92 Malignant neoplasm of bronchus and lung code range
  C40.0-C41.9 Malignant neoplasms of bone and articular cartilage code range
  C43.0-C43.9 Malignant melanoma of skin code range
  C50.011-C50.929 Malignant neoplasm of breast code range
  C53.0-C53.9 Malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri code range
  C56.0-C56.9 Malignant neoplasm of ovary code range
  C62.00-C62.92 Malignant neoplasm of testis code range
  C73 Malignant neoplasm of thyroid gland
  C76.0 Malignant neoplasm of head, face and neck NOS
  C80.0-C80.1 Malignant neoplasm without specification of site (unknown primary)
  C81.00-C81.99 Hodgkin’s disease code range
  C82.00-C88.9 Other malignant neoplasm of lymphoid tissue (other lymphomas)
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/14)   ICD-10-PCS is for use only on inpatient services. There are a few specific PET ICD-10-PCS codes such as the following:
  CB32KZZ, CB32YZZ Nuclear medicine, respiratory system, positron emission tomographic (PET) imaging, lungs and bronchi, code by radionuclide
  CB3YYZZ Nuclear medicine, respiratory system, positron emission tomographic (PET) imaging, respiratory system

Type of Service 

Radiology 

Place of Service 

Outpatient 

 


Index

 

PET Scanning, Oncology Applications
PET/CT, Oncology Applications
Positron Emission Tomography


Policy History

 

Date Action Reason
04/30/00 Add to Radiology section New policy
08/18/00 Replace policy Policy statement of PET for pancreatic cancer revised to be consistent with TEC Assessment. New policy statement on PET for head and neck cancer, based on 2000 TEC Assessment
02/15/02 Replace policy Policy revised with TEC Assessments; new policy statement on PET applications for breast and esophageal cancer, additional coding information
05/15/02 Replace policy Policy updated: Appendix updated with new Medicare policy on PET scanning for breast cancer; policy statement unchanged
07/12/02 Replace policy Policy revised: new policy statement on ovarian cancer and unknown primary; reference added to 2002 TEC Assessments; expanded Rationale section
12/17/03 Replace policy Policy regarding PET for breast cancer updated based on 2003 TEC; no change in policy statement. Other oncologic aspects of PET scanning not reviewed. New Medicare policy changes added. New 2004 HCPCS code added (G0296)
11/9/04 Replace policy CPT codes updated in policy guidelines section
12/15/05 Replace policy Policy revised: new policy statements on small cell lung cancer, testicular cancer, and soft tissue sarcoma. Updated reviews of evidence are provided for pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. CPT and HCPCS coding updated
10/13/2006 Revised policy Policy updated
02/15/07 Local Policy Policy revised with literature search. Updated reviews of evidence provided for esophageal cancer and breast cancer; no change in policy statement. Reference numbers 10 and 17 added
10/20/08 Replace policy  policy statement update; added specific criteria for medically necessary indications 
11/11/10 Replace policy (no longer local) adapted BCBSA TEC policy
02/09/12 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review. New medically necessary indications added for initial diagnosis and staging of bone cancer and cervical cancer; policy statement revised for head/neck cancer and lymphoma. Extensive rewrite of Rationale section; references 20-22 added.
2/14/13 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review. References 22-35 added. Policy statements revised with investigational indications added to breast cancer, colorectal cancer, soft tissue sarcomas and thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer revised to include both differentiated and poorly differentiated disease. Prostate cancer moved to section on Other Oncologic Applications; also added to this section are diagnosis of brain tumors, restaging of gastric cancer, staging of multiple myeloma, evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors and staging of inguinal lymph nodes in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis.

 


Appendix

Medicare Policy for Oncologic Applications of PET Scans (25)

Appendix A: Effect of Coverge Changes on Oncologic Uses of FDG PET
See NCD Manual for specific coverage language

 

Final Framework

Solid Tumor Type

Initial Treatment Strategy*

Subsequent Treatment Strategy**

Colorectal

Cover

Cover

Esophagus

Cover

Cover

Head & Neck (not thyroid or CNS)

Cover

Cover

Lymphoma

Cover

Cover

Non-small cell lung

Cover

Cover

Ovary

Cover

Cover

Brain

Cover

CED

Cervix

1 or CED

Cover

Small cell lung

Cover

CED

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Cover

CED

Pancreas

Cover

CED

Testes

Cover

CED

Breast (female and male)

2

Cover

Melanoma

3

Cover

Prostate

N/C

CED

Thyroid

Cover

4 or CED

All other solid tumors

Cover

CED

Myeloma

Cover

Cover

All other cancers not listed herein

CED

CED

*Formerly 'diagnosis' and 'staging'
** Formerly 'restaging' and 'monitoring response to treatment when a change in treatment is anticipated'
N/C = noncover
(1) Cervix: Covered for the detection of pre-treatment metastases (i.e., staging) in newly diagnosed cervical cancer subsequent to conventional imaging that is negative for extra-pelvic metastasis. All other uses are CED
(2) Breast: Noncovered for diagnosis and/or initial staging of axillary lymph nodes. Covered for initial staging of metastatic disease
(3) Melanoma: Noncovered for initial staging of regional lymph nodes. All other uses for initial staging are covered
(4) Thyroid: Covered for subsequent treatment strategy of recurrent or residual thyroid cancer of follicular cell origin previously treated by thyroidectomy and radioiodine ablation and have a serum thyroglobulin >10ng/ml and have a negative I-131 whole body scan. All other uses for subsequent treatment strategy are CED
CED = Coverage with Evidence Development