Impact of [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose PET-CT staging on treatment planning in radiotherapy incorporating elective nodal irradiation for non-small-cell lung cancer: a prospective study

Milena Kolodziejczyk, Lucyna Kepka, Miroslaw Dziuk, Anna Zawadzka, Norbert Szalus, Agnieszka Gizewska, Krzysztof Bujko
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2011 July 15, 80 (4): 1008-14

PURPOSE: To evaluate prospectively how positron emission tomography (PET) information changes treatment plans for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving or not receiving elective nodal irradiation (ENI).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: One hundred consecutive patients referred for curative radiotherapy were included in the study. Treatment plans were carried out with CT data sets only. For stage III patients, mediastinal ENI was planned. Then, patients underwent PET-CT for diagnostic/planning purposes. PET/CT was fused with the CT data for final planning. New targets were delineated. For stage III patients with minimal N disease (N0-N1, single N2), the ENI was omitted in the new plans. Patients were treated according to the PET-based volumes and plans. The gross tumor volume (GTV)/planning tumor volume (PTV) and doses for critical structures were compared for both data sets. The doses for areas of potential geographical misses derived with the CT data set alone were compared in patients with and without initially planned ENI.

RESULTS: In the 75 patients for whom the decision about curative radiotherapy was maintained after PET/CT, there would have been 20 cases (27%) with potential geographical misses by using the CT data set alone. Among them, 13 patients would receive ENI; of those patients, only 2 patients had the PET-based PTV covered by 90% isodose by using the plans based on CT alone, and the mean of the minimum dose within the missed GTV was 55% of the prescribed dose, while for 7 patients without ENI, it was 10% (p = 0.006). The lung, heart, and esophageal doses were significantly lower for plans with ENI omission than for plans with ENI use based on CT alone.

CONCLUSIONS: PET/CT should be incorporated in the planning of radiotherapy for NSCLC, even in the setting of ENI. However, if PET/CT is unavailable, ENI may to some extent compensate for an inadequate dose coverage resulting from diagnostic uncertainties.

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