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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Dec 1;72(5):1612-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.07.061.

Impact of manual and automated interpretation of fused PET/CT data on esophageal target definitions in radiation planning.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



We compare CT-only based esophageal tumor definition with two PET/CT based methods: (1) manual contouring and (2) a semiautomated method based on specific thresholds.


Patients with esophageal cancer treated at Brigham and Women's Hospital from 2003 to 2006 were identified. CT-based tumor volumes were compared with manual PET/CT-based volumes and semiautomated PET-based tumor volumes. Differences were scored as (1) minor if the superior or inferior extent of the primary tumor (or both) differed by 1-2 cm and (2) major if the difference was > 2 cm or if different noncontiguous nodal regions were identified as being grossly involved.


Comparing CT-based gross tumor volumes (GTVs) to manually defined PET/CT-based GTVs, use of PET changed volumes for 21 of 25 (84%) patients: 12 patients (48%) exhibited minor differences, whereas for 9 patients (36%), the differences were major. For 4 (16%) patients, the major difference was due to discrepancy in celiac or distant mediastinal lymph node involvement. Use of automated PET volumes changed the manual PET length in 14 patients (56%): 8 minor and 6 major.


The use of PET/CT in treatment planning for esophageal cancer can affect target definition. Two PET-based techniques can also produce significantly different tumor volumes in a large percentage of patients. Further investigations to clarify the optimal use of PET/CT data in treatment planning are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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