Marco H. M. Janssen*, Michel C. Ollers, Ruud G. P. M. van Stiphout, Robert G. Riedl, Jorgen van den Bogaard, Jeroen Buijsen, Philippe Lambin, Guido Lammering

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: To develop a positron emission tomography (PET)-based response prediction model to differentiate pathological responders from nonresponders. The predictive strength of the model was validated in a second patient group, treated and imaged identical to the patients on which the predictive model was based. Methods and Materials: Fifty-one rectal cancer patients were prospectively included in this study. All patients underwent fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET-computed tomography (CT) imaging both before the start of chemoradiotherapy (CRT) and after 2 weeks of treatment. Preoperative treatment with CRT was followed by a total mesorectal excision. From the resected specimen, the tumor regression grade (TRG) was scored according to the Mandard criteria. From one patient group (n = 30), the metabolic treatment response was correlated with the pathological treatment response, resulting in a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve based cutoff value for the reduction of maximum standardized uptake value (SUV(max)) within the tumor to differentiate pathological responders (TRG 1-2) from nonresponders (TRG 3-5). The applicability of the selected cutoff value for new patients was validated in a second patient group (n = 21). Results: When correlating the metabolic and pathological treatment response for the first patient group using ROC curve analysis (area under the curve = 0.98), a cutoff value of 48% SUV(max) reduction was selected to differentiate pathological responders from nonresponders (specificity of 100%, sensitivity of 64%). Applying this cutoff value to the second patient group resulted in a specificity and sensitivity of, respectively, 93% and 83%, with only one of the pathological nonresponders being false positively predicted as pathological responding. Conclusions: For rectal cancer, an accurate PET-based prediction of the pathological treatment response is feasible already after 2 weeks of CRT. The presented predictive model could be used to select patients to be considered for less invasive surgical interventions or even a "wait and see" policy. Also, based on the predicted response, early modifications of the treatment protocol are possible, which might result in an improved clinical outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-876
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • Locally advanced rectal cancer
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Sequential PET-CT imaging
  • Pathological response prediction
  • TRG

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