[18F]-FDG uptake dose-response correlates with radiation pneumonitis in lung cancer patients

Matthew R. McCurdy, Richard Castillo, Josue Martinez, Mohammad Najeeb Al Hallack, Jessica Lichter, Nicolas Zouain, Thomas Guerrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Purpose: To quantify the post-radiotherapy 2-[ 18F]-fluoro-2- deoxyglucose (FDG) pulmonary uptake dose-response in lung cancer patients and determine its relationship with radiation pneumonitis symptoms. Methods and materials: The data from 24 patients treated for lung cancer with thoracic radiotherapy who received restaging PET/CT imaging between 4 and 12 weeks after radiotherapy completion were evaluated. Their radiation dose distribution was registered with the post-treatment restaging PET/CT. Using histogram analysis, the voxel average FDG-PET uptake vs. radiation dose was obtained for each case and linear regression was performed. The resulting slope, the pulmonary metabolic radiation response (PMRR), was used to characterize the dose-response. The Common Toxicity Criteria version 3 was used to score clinical pulmonary toxicity symptoms. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to determine the level of FDG uptake vs. dose, MLD, V 5, V 10, V 20, and V 30 that can best predict symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Results: The median time between radiotherapy completion and FDG-PET imaging was 59 days (range, 26-70 days). The median of the mean SUV from lung that received 0-5 Gy was 1.00 (range, 0.37-1.48), 5-10 Gy was 1.01 (range, 0.37-1.77), 10-20 Gy was 1.04 (0.42-1.53), and >20 Gy was 1.29 (range, 0.41-8.01). Using the dose range of 0 Gy to the maximum dose minus 10 Gy, hierarchical linear regression model of the radiation dose and normalized FDG uptake per case found an adequate fit with the linear model. Pneumonitis scores were: Grade 0 for 13, Grade 1 for 5, Grade 2 for 6, and Grade 3, 4 or 5 for none. Using a PMRR threshold of 0.017 yields an associated true positive rate of 0.67 and false positive rate of 0.15 with average error of 30%. A V 5 threshold of 57.6 gives an associated true positive rate of 0.67 and false positive rate of 0.05 with a 20% average error. Conclusion: The metabolic radiation pneumonitis dose-response was evaluated from post-treatment FDG-PET/CT imaging. Statistical modeling found a linear relationship. The FDG uptake dose-response and V 5 correlated with symptomatic radiation pneumonitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Pulmonary injury
  • Radiation pneumonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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