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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Jun 1;44(3):593-7.

18F-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) for the planning of radiotherapy in lung cancer: high impact in patients with atelectasis.

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Department of Radiotherapy, Saarland University Medical Center Homburg/Saar, Germany.



18F-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) is increasingly applied in the staging of lung cancer (LC). This study analyzes the potential contribution of PET in radiotherapy planning for LC with special respect to tumor-associated atelectasis.


Thirty-four patients with histologically confirmed LC, who had been examined by PET during pretreatment staging, were included. All were irradiated after CT-based therapy planning with anterior/posterior (AP) portals encompassing the primary tumor and the mediastinum (CT portals, CP). The result of the PET examination was unknown in treatment planning. In retrospect, a PET portal (PP) was delineated and compared with the CP.


In 12/34 cases, the shape and/or size of the portals were changed, primarily (n = 10) the size of the fields was reduced. The median area of CP was 182 cm2 versus 167 cm2 of PP. Seventeen of 34 patients had dys- or atelectasis caused by a central primary tumor. In these cases, differences between CP and PP were significantly more frequent than in the other patients (8/17 vs. 3/17, p = 0.03).


In this retrospective analysis, the information provided by FDG-PET would have contributed to a substantial reduction of the size of radiotherapy portals. This applies particularly for patients with tumor-associated dys- or atelectasis.

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