Areas of high 18F-FDG uptake on preradiotherapy PET/CT identify preferential sites of local relapse after chemoradiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer

Jérémie Calais, Sébastien Thureau, Bernard Dubray, Romain Modzelewski, Luc Thiberville, Isabelle Gardin, Pierre Vera
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 2015, 56 (2): 196-203

UNLABELLED: The high rates of failure in the radiotherapy target volume suggest that patients with stage II or III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) should receive an increased total dose of radiotherapy. Areas of high (18)F-FDG uptake on preradiotherapy (18)F-FDG PET/CT have been reported to identify intratumor subvolumes at high risk of relapse after radiotherapy. We wanted to confirm these observations on a cohort of patients included in 3 sequential prospective studies. Our aim was to assess an appropriate threshold (percentage of maximum standardized uptake value [SUVmax]) to delineate subvolumes on staging (18)F-FDG PET/CT scans assuming that a smaller target volume would facilitate isotoxic radiotherapy dose escalation.

METHODS: Thirty-nine patients with inoperable stage II or III NSCLC, treated with chemoradiation or with radiotherapy alone, were extracted from 3 prospective studies ( identifiers NCT01261585, NCT01261598, and RECF0645). All patients underwent (18)F-FDG PET/CT at initial staging, before radiotherapy, during radiotherapy, and during systematic follow-up in a single institution. All (18)F-FDG PET/CT acquisitions were coregistered on the initial scan. Various subvolumes in the initial acquisition (30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% SUVmax thresholds) and in the 3 subsequent acquisitions (40% and 90% SUVmax thresholds) were pasted on the initial scan and compared.

RESULTS: Seventeen patients had a local relapse. The SUVmax measured during radiotherapy was significantly higher in locally relapsed tumors than in locally controlled tumors (mean, 6.8 vs. 4.6; P = 0.02). The subvolumes delineated on initial PET/CT scans with 70%-90% SUVmax thresholds were in good agreement with the recurrent volume at a 40% SUVmax threshold (common volume/baseline volume, 0.60-0.80). The subvolumes delineated on initial PET/CT scans with 30%-60% SUVmax thresholds were in good to excellent agreement with the core volume of the relapse (90% SUVmax threshold) (common volume/recurrent volume and overlap fraction indices, 0.60-0.93). The agreement was moderate (>0.51) when a 70% SUVmax threshold was used to delineate on initial PET/CT scans.

CONCLUSION: High (18)F-FDG uptake areas on pretreatment PET/CT scans identify tumor subvolumes at greater risk of relapse in patients with NSCLC treated by concomitant chemoradiation. We propose a 70% SUVmax threshold to delineate areas of high (18)F-FDG uptake on initial PET/CT scans as the target volumes for potential radiotherapy dose escalation.

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