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Radiat Oncol. 2012 Jul 10;7:106. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-7-106.

 ¹⁸F-FDG PET-CT during chemo-radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: the early metabolic response correlates with the delivered radiation dose.

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Institutes of Radiotherapy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.



To evaluate the metabolic changes on ¹⁸F-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography integrated with computed tomography (¹⁸ F-FDG PET-CT) performed before, during and after concurrent chemo-radiotherapy in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); to correlate the metabolic response with the delivered radiation dose and with the clinical outcome.


Twenty-five NSCLC patients candidates for concurrent chemo-radiotherapy underwent ¹⁸F-FDG PET-CT before treatment (pre-RT PET-CT), during the third week (during-RT PET-CT) of chemo-radiotherapy, and 4 weeks from the end of chemo-radiotherapy (post-RT PET-CT). The parameters evaluated were: the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of the primary tumor, the SUVmax of the lymph nodes, and the Metabolic Tumor Volume (MTV).


SUVmax of the tumor and MTV significantly (p=0.0001, p=0.002, respectively) decreased earlier during the third week of chemo-radiotherapy, with a further reduction 4 weeks from the end of treatment (p<0.0000, p<0.0002, respectively). SUVmax of lymph nodes showed a trend towards a reduction during chemo-radiotherapy (p=0.06) and decreased significantly (p=0.0006) at the end of treatment. There was a significant correlation (r=0.53, p=0.001) between SUVmax of the tumor measured at during-RT PET-CT and the total dose of radiotherapy reached at the moment of the scan. Disease progression free survival was significantly (p=0.01) longer in patients with complete metabolic response measured at post-RT PET-CT.


In patients with locally advanced NSCLC, ¹⁸F-FDG PET-CT performed during and after treatment allows early metabolic modifications to be detected, and for this SUVmax is the more sensitive parameter. Further studies are needed to investigate the correlation between the metabolic modifications during therapy and the clinical outcome in order to optimize the therapeutic strategy. Since the metabolic activity during chemo-radiotherapy correlates with the cumulative dose of fractionated radiotherapy delivered at the moment of the scan, special attention should be paid to methodological aspects, such as the radiation dose reached at the time of PET.

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