Background: Positron emission tomography (PET) has a potential improvement for staging and radiation treatment planning of various tumor sites. We analyzed the use of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET/computed tomography (CT) images for staging and target volume delineation of patients with head and neck carcinoma candidates for radiotherapy.
Methods: Twenty-two patients candidates for primary radiotherapy, who did not receive any curative surgery, underwent both CT and PET/CT simulation. Gross Tumor Volume (GTV) was contoured on CT (CT-GTV), PET (PET-GTV), and PET/CT images (PET/CT-GTV). The resulting volumes were analyzed and compared.
Results: Based on PET/CT, changes in TNM categories and clinical stage occurred in 5/22 cases (22%). The difference between CT-GTV and PET-GTV was not statistically significant (p = 0.2) whereas the difference between the composite volume (PET/CT-GTV) and CT-GTV was statistically significant (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: PET/CT fusion images could have a potential impact on both tumor staging and treatment planning.