Background and purpose: To investigate the influence of selective irradiation of 18FDG-PET positive mediastinal nodes on radiation fields and normal tissue exposure in limited disease small cell lung cancer (LD-SCLC).
Material and methods: Twenty-one patients with LD-SCLC, of whom both CT and PET images were available, were studied. For each patient, two three-dimensional conformal treatment plans were made with selective irradiation of involved lymph nodes, based on CT and on PET, respectively. Changes in treatment plans as well as dosimetric factors associated with lung and esophageal toxicity were analyzed and compared.
Results: FDG-PET information changed the treatment field in 5 patients (24%). In 3 patients, this was due to a decrease and in 2 patients to an increase in the number of involved nodal areas. However, there were no significant differences in gross tumor volume (GTV), lung, and esophageal parameters between CT- and PET-based plans.
Conclusions: Incorporating FDG-PET information in radiotherapy planning for patients with LD-SCLC changed the treatment plan in 24% of patients compared to CT. Both increases and decreases of the GTV were observed, theoretically leading to the avoidance of geographical miss or a decrease of radiation exposure of normal tissues, respectively. Based on these findings, a phase II trial, evaluating PET-scan based selective nodal irradiation, is ongoing in our department.