COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Additional PET/CT in week 5-6 of radiotherapy for patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer as a means of dose escalation planning?

Charles Gillham, Daniel Zips, Falk Pönisch, Carsten Evers, Wolfgang Enghardt, Nasreddin Abolmaali, Klaus Zöphel, Steffen Appold, Tobias Hölscher, Jörg Steinbach, Jörg Kotzerke, Thomas Herrmann, Michael Baumann
Radiotherapy and Oncology 2008, 88 (3): 335-41
18514339

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Loco-regional failure after radiotherapy with total doses of 60-70 Gy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains a major clinical problem. Escalation of radiation dose is often limited because of exceeding normal tissue constraints. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that a reduction in disease volume during radiotherapy detected by FDG PET/CT would facilitate radiation dose escalation, whilst remaining within normal tissue constraints.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten patients with localised inoperable NSCLC were prospectively enrolled. Each received standard 3D-conformally planned radiotherapy to a dose of 66 Gy in 33 fractions over 6.5 weeks. FDG PET/CT imaging in the treatment position was performed prior to treatment and repeated following 50 or 60 Gy. CT and PET-delineated gross tumour volumes were generated and a composite created. A margin of 15mm was added in all planes to form the planning target volume (PTV). Treatment planning was performed to compare two dose escalation strategies: 78 Gy delivered to the initial PTV with treatment in two phases (shrinking field), i.e., 66 Gy to the initial PTV with a 12 Gy-boost to the PTV after 50/60 Gy. As an alternative planning approach the maximal dose without exceeding normal tissue constraints was evaluated for each patient (individualized dose prescription).

RESULTS: There was a median PTV reduction after 50/60 Gy of 20%. Delivering 78 Gy to the initial PTV could have been achieved in 4/10 patients. Of the remaining 6, delivering 78 Gy to the initial PTV would have exceeded normal tissue constraints and no benefit was seen when delivered in two phases. The results from the individualized dose prescription indicated a higher median maximal dose when treatment would be given in two phases compared to one phase resulting in a modest increase of calculated tumour control probability.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that despite tumour shrinkage determined by subsequent FDG PET/CT during treatment the tested adaptive targeting strategy would result only in a modest improvement in the context of dose escalation. Further studies on the optimal use of FDG PET/CT and other approaches for dose escalation in loco-regionally advanced NSCLC are warranted.

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