Department of Radiology, University Medical Center Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. M.Rijpkema@rdiag.azn.nl
For head-and-neck tumors, breathing a hyperoxic hypercapnic gas mixture and administration of nicotinamide has been shown to result in a significantly improved tumor response to accelerated radiotherapy (ARCON, Accelerated Radiotherapy with CarbOgen and Nicotinamide). This may be caused by improved tumor oxygenation, possibly mediated by vascular effects. In this study, both blood oxygenation and vascular effects of breathing a hyperoxic hypercapnic gas mixture (98\% O2 + 2\% CO2) were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with head-and-neck tumors.Tumor vascularity and oxygenation were investigated by dynamic gadolinium contrast-enhanced MRI and blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) MRI, respectively. Eleven patients with primary head-and-neck tumors were each measured twice; with and without breathing the hyperoxic hypercapnic gas mixture.BOLD MR imaging revealed a significant increase of the MRI time constant of transverse magnetization decay (T2*) in the tumor during hypercapnic hyperoxygenation, which correlates to a decrease of the deoxyhemoglobin concentration. No changes in overall tumor vascularity were observed, as measured by the gadolinium contrast uptake rate in the tumor.Breathing a hyperoxic hypercapnic gas mixture improves tumor blood oxygenation in patients with head-and-neck tumors, which may contribute to the success of the ARCON therapy.