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J Am Coll Radiol. 2009 Dec;6(12):876-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2009.08.006.

Utilization of advanced imaging technologies for target delineation in radiation oncology.

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Department of Radiation Oncology and Center for Advanced Radiotherapy Technologies, Rebecca and John Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0843, USA.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the utilization of advanced imaging technologies for target delineation among radiation oncologists in the United States.


A random sample of 1,600 radiation oncologists was contacted by Internet, e-mail, and fax and questioned regarding the use of advanced imaging technologies, clinical applications, and future plans for use. Advanced imaging technologies were defined as any of the following that were directly incorporated into radiation therapy planning: MRI, PET, single-photon emission CT, 4-D CT, functional MRI, and MR spectroscopy.


Of 1,089 contactable physicians, 394 (36%) responded. Of respondents, 65% were in private practice and 35% were in academic practice. The proportion using any advanced imaging technology for target delineation was 95%. However, the majority reported only rare (in <25% of their patients; 46.6%) or infrequent (in 25%-50% of their patients; 26.0%) utilization. The most commonly used technologies were 2-[(18)F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose PET (76%), MRI (72%), and 4-D CT (44%). The most common cancers treated using image-guided target delineation were those of the lung (83%), central nervous system (79%), and head and neck (79%). Among users of advanced imaging technologies, 66% planned to increase use; 30% of nonusers planned to adopt these technologies in the future.


Advanced imaging technologies are widely used by US radiation oncologists for target delineation. Although the majority of respondents used them in <50% of their patients, the frequency of utilization is expected to increase. Studies determining the optimal application of these technologies in radiation therapy planning are needed.

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