Purpose: To prospectively study the impact on tumor and normal tissue delineation for RT planning by use of hybrid PET-CT simulation for patients with head-and-neck cancer.
Methods and materials: Twenty-one patients were simulated in treatment position on a hybrid PET-CT scanner. Images were transferred to the Varian Eclipse planning system. Abnormal areas of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake were contoured on PET for the gross tumor volume of primaries (GTVp) and abnormal nodal region of primaries (ABNp) then compared with the same CT gross tumor volumes (GTVc) and abnormal nodal region (ABNc). A statistical analysis was performed to evaluate the correlation of PET and CT volumes.
Results: Positron emission tomography demonstrated the primary in all cases, whereas CT did not find the primary in 3 cases. In 8 patients, additional areas of disease were seen only in PET. The average ratio of GTVc/GTVp was 3.1 (range, 0.3-23.6), whereas for ABNc/ABNp was 0.7 (range, 0-4). Volumes for the primaries were significantly larger on CT than on PET (p = 0.002) but not for nodal regions (p = 0.5).
Conclusions: Hybrid PET-CT simulation is feasible and provides valuable information that results in greater delineation of normal tissues from tumor bearing areas at high risk for recurrence. This finding may further improve therapeutic window for IMRT for head-and-neck cancers.