F-18-FLT PET During Radiotherapy or Chemoradiotherapy in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Is an Early Predictor of Outcome

Bianca A. W. Hoeben*, Esther G. C. Troost, Paul N. Span, Carla M. L. van Herpen, Johan Bussink, Wim J. G. Oyen, Johannes H. A. M. Kaanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

75 Citations (Web of Science)


This prospective study used sequential PET with the proliferation tracer 3'-deoxy-3'-(18)F-fluorothymidine ((18)F-FLT) to monitor the early response to treatment of head and neck cancer and evaluated the association between PET parameters and clinical outcome.Forty-eight patients with head and neck cancer underwent (18)F-FLT PET/CT before and during the second and fourth weeks of radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy. Mean maximum standardized uptake values for the hottest voxel in the tumor and its 8 surrounding voxels in 1 transversal slice (SUVmax(9)) of the PET scans were calculated, as well as PET-segmented gross tumor volumes using visual delineation (GTVVIS) and operator-independent methods based on signal-to-background ratio (GTVSBR) and 50% isocontour of the maximum signal intensity (GTV50%). PET parameters were evaluated for correlations with outcome.(18)F-FLT uptake decreased significantly between consecutive scans. An SUVmax(9) decline ? 45% and a GTVVIS decrease ? median during the first 2 treatment weeks were associated with better 3-y disease-free survival (88% vs. 63%, P = 0.035, and 91% vs. 65%, P = 0.037, respectively). A GTVVIS decrease ? median in the fourth treatment week was also associated with better 3-y locoregional control (100% vs. 68%, P = 0.021). These correlations were most prominent in the subset of patients treated with chemoradiotherapy. Because of low (18)F-FLT uptake levels during treatment, GTVSBR and GTV50% were unsuccessful in segmenting primary tumor volume.In head and neck cancer, a change in (18)F-FLT uptake early during radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy is a strong indicator for long-term outcome. (18)F-FLT PET may thus aid in personalized patient management by steering treatment modifications during an early phase of therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-540
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


  • F-18-fluorothymidine PET
  • head and neck cancer
  • early response monitoring

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