Quantitative prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET analysis may provide for non-invasive and objective risk stratification of primary prostate cancer (PCa) patients. We determined the ability of machine learning-based analysis of quantitative [18F]DCFPyL PET metrics to predict metastatic disease or high-risk pathological tumor features.
In a prospective cohort study, 76 patients with intermediate- to high-risk PCa scheduled for robot-assisted radical prostatectomy with extended pelvic lymph node dissection underwent pre-operative [18F]DCFPyL PET-CT. Primary tumors were delineated using 50–70% peak isocontour thresholds on images with and without partial-volume correction (PVC). Four hundred and eighty standardized radiomic features were extracted per tumor. Random forest models were trained to predict lymph node involvement (LNI), presence of any metastasis, Gleason score ≥ 8, and presence of extracapsular extension (ECE). For comparison, models were also trained using standard PET features (SUVs, volume, total PSMA uptake). Model performance was validated using 50 times repeated 5-fold cross-validation yielding the mean receiver-operator characteristic curve AUC.
The radiomics-based machine learning models predicted LNI (AUC 0.86 ± 0.15, p < 0.01), nodal or distant metastasis (AUC 0.86 ± 0.14, p < 0.01), Gleason score (0.81 ± 0.16, p < 0.01), and ECE (0.76 ± 0.12, p < 0.01). The highest AUCs reached using standard PET metrics were lower than those of radiomics-based models. For LNI and metastasis prediction, PVC and a higher delineation threshold improved model stability. Machine learning pre-processing methods had a minor impact on model performance.
Machine learning-based analysis of quantitative [18F]DCFPyL PET metrics can predict LNI and high-risk pathological tumor features in primary PCa patients. These findings indicate that PSMA expression detected on PET is related to both primary tumor histopathology and metastatic tendency. Multicenter external validation is needed to determine the benefits of using radiomics versus standard PET metrics in clinical practice.