Nuclear medicine imaging to predict response to radiotherapy: a review

C. de Van Wiele, C. Lahorte, W. Oyen, O. Boerman, I. Goethals, G. Slegers and R. Dierckx

Division of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Ghent, Ghent, Belgium.
Jan, 2003


To review available literature on positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) for the measurement of tumor metabolism, hypoxia, growth factor receptor expression, and apoptosis as predictors of response to radiotherapy.Medical literature databases (Pubmed, Medline) were screened for available literature and critically analyzed as to their scientific relevance.Studies on 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET as a predictor of response to radiotherapy in head-and-neck carcinoma are promising but need confirmation in larger series. 18F-fluorothymine is stable in human plasma, and preliminary clinical data obtained with this marker of tumor cell proliferation are promising. For imaging tumor hypoxia, novel, more widely available radiopharmaceuticals with faster pharmacokinetics are mandatory. Imaging of ongoing apoptosis and growth factor expression is at a very early stage, but results obtained in other domains with radiolabeled peptides appear promising. Finally, for most of the tracers discussed, validation against a gold standard is needed.Optimization of the pharmacokinetics of relevant radiopharmaceuticals as well as validation against gold-standard tests in large patient series are mandatory if PET and SPECT are to be implemented in routine clinical practice for the purpose of predicting response to radiotherapy.