Using FDG-PET activity as a surrogate for tumor cell density and its effect on equivalent uniform dose calculation

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Abstract

The concept of equivalent uniform dose (EUD) has been suggested as a means to quantitatively consider heterogeneous dose distributions within targets. Tumor cell density/function is typically assumed to be uniform. We herein propose to use 18F-labeled 2-deoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) tumor imaging activity as a surrogate marker for tumor cell density to allow the EUD concept to include intratumor heterogeneities and to study its effect on EUD calculation. Thirty-one patients with lung cancer who had computerized tomography (CT)-based 3D planning and PET imaging were studied. Treatment beams were designed based on the information from both the CT and PET scans. Doses were calculated in 3D based on CT images to reflect tissue heterogeneity. The EUD was calculated in two different ways: first, assuming a uniform tumor cell density within the tumor target; second, using FDG-PET activity (counts/cm3) as a surrogate for tumor cell density at different parts of tumor to calculate the functional-imaging-weighted EUD (therefore will be labeled fEUD for convenience). The EUD calculation can be easily incorporated into the treatment planning process. For 28/31 patients, their fEUD and EUD differed by less than 6%. Twenty-one of these twenty-eight patients had tumor volumes <200‚ÄČcm3. In the three patients with larger tumor volume, the fEUD and EUD differed by 8%–14%. Incorporating information from PET imaging to represent tumor cell density in the EUD calculation is straightforward. This approach provides the opportunity to include heterogeneity in tumor function/metabolism into the EUD calculation. The difference between fEUD and EUD, i.e., whether including or not including the possible tumor cell density heterogeneity within tumor can be significant with large tumor volumes. Further research is needed to assess the usefulness of the fEUD concept in radiation treatment.

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