Marinus J Hagens, Pim J van Leeuwen, Maurits Wondergem, Thierry N Boellaard, Francesco Sanguedolce, Daniela E Oprea-Lager, Axel Bex, André N Vis, Henk G van der Poel, Laura S Mertens; EAU Section of Urological Imaging

Abstract: In contemporary oncologic diagnostics, molecular imaging modalities are pivotal for precise local and metastatic staging. Recent studies identified fibroblast activation protein as a promising target for molecular imaging across various malignancies. Therefore, we aimed to systematically evaluate the current literature on the utility of fibroblast activation protein inhibitor (FAPI) PET/CT for staging patients with genitourinary malignancies.

Methods: A systematic Embase and Medline search was conducted, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) process, on August 1, 2023. Relevant publications reporting on the diagnostic value of FAPI PET/CT in genitourinary malignancies were identified and included. Studies were critically reviewed using a modified version of a tool for quality appraisal of case reports. Study results were summarized using a narrative approach.

Results: We included 22 retrospective studies with a cumulative total of 69 patients, focusing on prostate cancer, urothelial carcinoma of the bladder and of the upper urinary tract, renal cell carcinoma, and testicular cancer. FAPI PET/CT was able to visualize both local and metastatic disease, including challenging cases such as prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-negative prostate cancer. Compared with radiolabeled 18F-FDG and PSMA PET/CT, FAPI PET/CT showed heterogeneous performance. In selected cases, FAPI PET/CT demonstrated superior tumor visualization (i.e., better tumor-to-background ratios and visualization of small tumors or metastatic deposits visible in no other way) over 18F-FDG PET/CT in detecting local or metastatic disease, whereas comparisons with PSMA PET/CT showed both superior and inferior performances. Challenges in FAPI PET/CT arise from physiologic urinary excretion of most FAPI radiotracers, hindering primary-lesion visualization in the bladder and upper urinary tract, despite generally providing high tumor-to-background ratios.

Conclusion: The current findings suggest that FAPI PET/CT may hold promise as a future tool to aid clinicians in detecting genitourinary malignancies. Given the substantial heterogeneity among the included studies and the limited number of patients, caution in interpreting these findings is warranted. Subsequent prospective and comparative investigations are anticipated to delve more deeply into this innovative imaging modality and elucidate its role in clinical practice.