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Clin Transl Imaging. 2017;5(4):373-388. doi: 10.1007/s40336-017-0238-7. Epub 2017 Jul 10.

Hypoxia in cervical cancer: from biology to imaging.

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Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Medical Physics, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Physics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



Hypoxia imaging may improve identification of cervical cancer patients at risk of treatment failure and be utilized in treatment planning and monitoring, but its clinical potential is far from fully realized. Here, we briefly describe the biology of hypoxia in cervix tumors of relevance for imaging, and evaluate positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques that have shown promise for assessing hypoxia in a clinical setting. We further discuss emerging imaging approaches, and how imaging can play a role in future treatment strategies to target hypoxia.


We performed a PubMed literature search, using keywords related to imaging and hypoxia in cervical cancer, with a particular emphasis on studies correlating imaging with other hypoxia measures and treatment outcome.


Only a few and rather small studies have utilized PET with tracers specific for hypoxia, and no firm conclusions regarding preferred tracer or clinical potential can be drawn so far. Most studies address indirect hypoxia imaging with dynamic contrast-enhanced techniques. Strong evidences for a role of these techniques in hypoxia imaging have been presented. Pre-treatment images have shown significant association to outcome in several studies, and images acquired during fractionated radiotherapy may further improve risk stratification. Multiparametric MRI and multimodality PET/MRI enable combined imaging of factors of relevance for tumor hypoxia and warrant further investigation.


Several imaging approaches have shown promise for hypoxia imaging in cervical cancer. Evaluation in large clinical trials is required to decide upon the optimal modality and approach.


Cervical cancer; Hypoxia; Imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Positron emission tomography; Treatment outcome

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