Hypoxia imaging with [F-18] FMISO-PET in head and neck cancer: potential for guiding intensity modulated radiation therapy in overcoming hypoxia-induced treatment resistance

Radiother Oncol. 2011 Dec;101(3):369-75. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2011.07.029. Epub 2011 Aug 27.


Background and purpose: Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with [F-18] fluoromisonidazole (FMISO) has been validated as a hypoxic tracer. Head and neck cancer exhibits hypoxia, inducing aggressive biologic traits that impart resistance to treatment. Delivery of modestly higher radiation doses to tumors with stable areas of chronic hypoxia can improve tumor control. Advanced radiation treatment planning (RTP) and delivery techniques such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can deliver higher doses to a small volume without increasing morbidity. We investigated the utility of co-registered FMISO-PET and CT images to develop clinically feasible RTPs with higher tumor control probabilities (TCP).

Materials and methods: FMISO-PET images were used to determine hypoxic sub-volumes for boost planning. Example plans were generated for 10 of the patients in the study who exhibited significant hypoxia. We created an IMRT plan for each patient with a simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) to the hypoxic sub-volumes. We also varied the boost for two patients.

Result: A significant (mean 17%, median 15%) improvement in TCP is predicted when the modest additional boost dose to the hypoxic sub-volume is included.

Conclusion: Combined FMISO-PET imaging and IMRT planning permit delivery of higher doses to hypoxic regions, increasing the predicted TCP (mean 17%) without increasing expected complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Misonidazole / analogs & derivatives*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiation Tolerance*
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / methods*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*


  • fluoromisonidazole
  • Misonidazole