Date: 26 Aug 2005

Radiotherapy planning: PET/CT scanner performances in the definition of gross tumour volume and clinical target volume

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Positron emission tomography is the most advanced scintigraphic imaging technology and can be employed in the planning of radiation therapy (RT). The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible role of fused images (anatomical CT and functional FDG-PET), acquired with a dedicated PET/CT scanner, in delineating gross tumour volume (GTV) and clinical target volume (CTV) in selected patients and thus in facilitating RT planning.


Twenty-eight patients were examined, 24 with lung cancer (17 non-small cell and seven small cell) and four with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the head and neck region. All patients underwent a whole-body PET scan after a CT scan. The CT images provided morphological volumetric information, and in a second step, the corresponding PET images were overlaid to define the effective target volume. The images were exported off-line via an internal network to an RT simulator.


Three patient were excluded from the study owing to change in the disease stage subsequent to the PET/CT study. Among the remaining 25 patients, PET significantly altered the GTV or CTV in 11 (44%) . In five of these 11 cases there was a reduction in GTV or CTV, while in six there was an increase in GTV or CTV.


FDG-PET is a highly sensitive imaging modality that offers better visualisation of local and locoregional tumour extension. This study confirmed that co-registration of CT data and FDG-PET images may lead to significant modifications of RT planning and patient management.

An erratum to this article can be found at