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Exp Ther Med. 2010 Nov;1(6):1027-1033. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

Clinical application of positron emission tomography in designing radiation fields in non-small cell lung cancer patients.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania;


There is significant interest in incorporating positron emission tomography (PET) into radiation therapy planning, although limited data exist that separately consider its diagnostic accuracy with respect to the primary tumor, hilum and mediastinum. This study evaluates the accuracy of PET planning by region of interest. Between January 2003 and July 2005, 351 patients with a pre-operative PET study underwent surgical resection. Of this population, 257 (73%) patients with a diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer were evaluated. PET study findings regarding the suspected primary tumor site, ipsilateral hilum and mediastinum were correlated with surgical pathology for determination of accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV). The accuracy of the primary site (95%), ipsilateral hilum (80%) and mediastinum (84%) was relatively high. The NPV of the ipsilateral hilum and mediastinum was also high (92 and 86%, respectively). However, the PPV of the ipsilateral hilum (31%) and mediastinum (75%) was lower. PET accuracy evaluating bronchoalveolar primary tumors was lower vs. other histologies (86 vs. 96%, p=0.02), although there was no difference with regard to the hilum or mediastinum. PET scanning may be an important tool in designing radiation treatment fields for lung cancer when combined with other imaging modalities. However, caution must be exercised when evaluating lymph node regions, as the PPV is not as high for the ipsilateral hilum and mediastinum as for the primary tumor. The NPV is high for nodal regions and may help with the exclusion of large treatment volumes in selected cases.

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