UNLABELLED: The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the influence and accuracy of (18)F-FDG PET in target volume definition as a complementary modality to CT for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) using dedicated PET and CT scanners. METHODS: Six HNC patients were custom fitted with head and neck and upper body immobilization devices, and conventional radiotherapy CT simulation was performed together with (18)F-FDG PET imaging. Gross target volume (GTV) and pathologic nodal volumes were first defined in the conventional manner based on CT. A segmentation and surface-rendering registration technique was then used to coregister the (18)F-FDG PET and CT planning image datasets. (18)F-FDG PET GTVs were determined and displayed simultaneously with the CT contours. CT GTVs were then modified based on the PET data to form final PET/CT treatment volumes. Five-field intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) was then used to demonstrate dose targeting to the CT GTV or the PET/CT GTV. RESULTS: One patient was PET-negative after induction chemotherapy. The CT GTV was modified in all remaining patients based on (18)F-FDG PET data. The resulting PET/CT GTV was larger than the original CT volume by an average of 15%. In 5 cases, (18)F-FDG PET identified active lymph nodes that corresponded to lymph nodes contoured on CT. The pathologically enlarged CT lymph nodes were modified to create final lymph node volumes in 3 of 5 cases. In 1 of 6 patients, (18)F-FDG-avid lymph nodes were not identified as pathologic on CT. In 2 of 6 patients, registration of the independently acquired PET and CT data using segmentation and surface rendering resulted in a suboptimal alignment and, therefore, had to be repeated. Radiotherapy planning using IMRT demonstrated the capability of this technique to target anatomic or anatomic/physiologic target volumes. In this manner, metabolically active sites can be intensified to greater daily doses. CONCLUSION: Inclusion of (18)F-FDG PET data resulted in modified target volumes in radiotherapy planning for HNC. PET and CT data acquired on separate, dedicated scanners may be coregistered for therapy planning; however, dual-acquisition PET/CT systems may be considered to reduce the need for reregistrations. It is possible to use IMRT to target dose to metabolically active sites based on coregistered PET/CT data.
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