Background and purpose: T2 weighted MRI is recommended for image guided adaptive brachytherapy (IGABT) in cervical cancer. Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) and the derived apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) may add additional biological information on tumour cell density. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the distribution of the ADC within target volumes as recommended by GEC-ESTRO: Gross Tumour Volume at BT (GTV(BT)), High-Risk Clinical Tumour Volume (HR-CTV) and Intermediate-Risk Clinical Target Volume (IR-CTV) and to evaluate the change of diffusion between fractions of IGABT.
Material and methods: Fifteen patients with locally advanced cervical cancer were examined by MRI before their first (BT1) and second (BT2) fraction of IGABT, resulting in a total of 30 MR examinations including both T2 weighted and DWI sequences. The Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (ADC) was calculated by use of three levels of b-values (0, 600, 1000 s/mm(2)). ADC maps were constructed and fused with the GEC ESTRO target contours. The mean ADC value within each target volume was calculated. Furthermore, volumes of low diffusion (ADC(low)) were defined based on an ADC threshold of 1.2 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s, and overlap with target volumes was evaluated. Change of ADC level in target volumes and change of ADC(low) volume from BT1 to BT2 was also evaluated.
Results: The mean ADC was significantly lower in GTV(BT) than in HR-CTV (p<0.001) which again was significantly lower than in IR-CTV (p<0.001). There was no significant change of the ADC(low) volume or ADC level within each target structure between BT1 and BT2 (p=0.242). All three GEC-ESTRO volumes contained volumes with low diffusion. The GTV(BT) contained 37.2% volume of low diffusion, HR-CTV 20.3% and IR-CTV 10.8%.
Conclusion: With DWI we were able to find a significant difference in ADC-values for the three different GEC ESTRO targets. This supports the assumption that the target volumes used for dose prescription in IGABT contain tissues with different characteristics, with the tumour (GTV(BT)) being the volume with the lowest diffusion. No significant changes were found from BT1 to BT2 indicating that changes of ADC level and volumes are stable at the time of BT. Further studies are needed to evaluate the role of DWI in target contouring and dose prescription for IGABT.