Background. We investigated the possibility to early identify non-responding patients based on FDG-PET positive lymph nodes (PNs) volume variation assessed with in-room images.Material and methods. Twenty-seven head and neck cancer patients with at least one pre-treatment PNs were retrospectively analyzed; they received 54 Gy, 66 Gy, 69 Gy in 30 fractions on precautionary lymph nodal (N), primary (T) and PET positive (BTV) planning target volumes (PTVs), respectively with Helical TomoTherapy (SIB approach). PNs volume changes during treatment were assessed based on megavoltage computed tomography (MVCT) used for image guidance as ratio between volumes at fractions 10/20/30 and at first fraction. Data on T, N and M relapses (rT, rN, rM) were collected for all patients. The difference of PNs volume changes, during treatment, between patients with versus without relapses was tested (Mann-Whitney test). The impact of shrinkage on the corresponding survival curves (Cox proportional-hazard regression), dividing between no/moderate versus large shrinkage (based on ROC curve best cut-off value) was also investigated.Results. Median follow-up was 27.4 m (3.7-108.9). The numbers for rT, rN, rM were 5, 4, 6, respectively. Differences in PNs shrinkage were found between patients with and without rT/rN at all considered timing [fr 20, rT: 0.56 vs. 1.07 (median), p = 0.06; rN: 0.57 vs. 1.25, p = 0.07]. Differences were lower for rM. Survival curves provide high hazard ratios (HR) between PNs changes and rT/rN at all considered timing [fr 20, rT: best cut-off = 0.58, HR 5.1 (95% CI 0.5-49.4), p = 0.12; rN: best cut-off = 0.98, HR 14.9 (1.6-142.9), p = 0.01].Conclusion. A limited shrinkage of PNs during treatment is associated with poorer outcome in terms of T/N relapses. The early variation of PNs observed on in-room images may provide useful information about the individual response with potential application in guiding an early adaptation of the treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging