Molecular PET imaging for biology-guided adaptive radiotherapy of head and neck cancer

Bianca A. W. Hoeben*, Johan Bussink, Esther G. C. Troost, Wim J. G. Oyen, Johannes H. A. M. Kaanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Integration of molecular imaging PET techniques into therapy selection strategies and radiation treatment planning for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) can serve several purposes. First, pre-treatment assessments can steer decisions about radiotherapy modifications or combinations with other modalities. Second, biology-based objective functions can be introduced to the radiation treatment planning process by co-registration of molecular imaging with planning computed tomography (CT) scans. Thus, customized heterogeneous dose distributions can be generated with escalated doses to tumor areas where radiotherapy resistance mechanisms are most prevalent. Third, monitoring of temporal and spatial variations in these radiotherapy resistance mechanisms early during the course of treatment can discriminate responders from non-responders. With such information available shortly after the start of treatment, modifications can be implemented or the radiation treatment plan can be adapted tailing the biological response pattern. Currently, these strategies are in various phases of clinical testing, mostly in single-center studies. Further validation in multicenter set-up is needed. Ultimately, this should result in availability for routine clinical practice requiring stable production and accessibility of tracers, reproducibility and standardization of imaging and analysis methods, as well as general availability of knowledge and expertise. Small studies employing adaptive radiotherapy based on functional dynamics and early response mechanisms demonstrate promising results. In this context, we focus this review on the widely used PET tracer F-18-FDG and PET tracers depicting hypoxia and proliferation; two well-known radiation resistance mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1257-1271
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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