Background and purpose: To analyze the recurrence pattern in relation to target volumes and (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake on positron emission tomography in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients treated with definitive chemoradiation.
Material and methods: 520 patients received radiotherapy for HNSCC from 2005 to 2009. Among 100 patients achieving complete clinical response and a later recurrence, 39 patients with 48 loco-regional failures had a recurrence CT scan before any salvage therapy. The estimated point of origin of each recurrence was transferred to the planning CT by deformable image co-registration. The recurrence position was then related to the delineated target volumes and iso-SUV-contours relative to the maximum standard uptake value (SUV). We defined the recurrence density as the total number of recurrences in a sub-volume divided by the sum of that volume for all patients.
Results: 54% (95% CI 37-69%) of recurrences originated inside the FDG-positive volume and 96% (95% CI 86-99%) in the high dose region. Recurrence density was significantly higher in the central target volumes (P<0.0001) and increased with increasing FDG avidity (P=0.036).
Conclusions: The detailed pattern-of-failure data analysis suggests that most recurrences occur in the FDG PET positive areas or the solid tumor.
Keywords: FDG-PET; Head and neck cancer; Pattern of failure; Radiotherapy; Recurrence.
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