Feasibility of [18F]FDG-PET and coregistered CT on clinical target volume definition of advanced non-small cell lung cancer

C Messa, G L Ceresoli, G Rizzo, D Artioli, M Cattaneo, P Castellone, V Gregorc, M Picchio, C Landoni, F Fazio
Quarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2005, 49 (3): 259-66

AIM: To prospectively evaluate the impact of coregistered positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) in 3D conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) planning in patients with non-small lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: Twenty-one patients (median age: 57 years; range: 42-80 years) referred to 3D-CRT for NSCLC were recruited. Positron emission tomography with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG-PET) and conventional CT images were coregistered (PET/CT images) using a commercial software package based on surface matching technique. Neoplastic areas were contoured on [18F]FDG-PET images with the aid of the correspondent CT image by a nuclear medicine physician. CT images and their relative PET contours were then transferred to treatment planning system. A radiation oncologist firstly contoured clinical target volumes (CTV) on CT scan alone (CTV-CT), and then on coregistered PET/CT images (CTV-PET/CT). CTV-CT and CTV-PET/CT were compared for each patient; a difference higher than 25% was considered of clinical relevance.

RESULTS: Three patients were shifted to palliative radiotherapy for metastatic disease or very large tumor size, showed by [18F]FDG-PET. Of the remaining 18 patients a CTV change, after inclusion of PET/CT data, was observed in 10/18 cases (55%): larger in 7/18 (range 33-279%) and smaller in 3/18 patients (range 26-34%), mainly due to inclusion or exclusion of lymph-nodal disease and to better definition of tumor extent. CTV changes smaller than 25% occurred in the remaining 8/18 patients.

CONCLUSIONS: [18F]FDG-PET and CT images co-registration in radiotherapy treatment planning led to a change in CTV definition in the majority of our patients, which may significantly modify management and radiation treatment modality in these patients.

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