Differences in tumor volume for treated glioblastoma patients examined with 18F-fluorothymidine PET and contrast-enhanced MRI
Abstract: Background: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant primary brain tumor. It is a rapidly progressing tumor that infiltrates the adjacent healthy brain tissue and is difficult to treat. Despite modern treatment including surgical resection followed by radiochemotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy, the outcome remains poor. The median overall survival is 10-12 months. Neuroimaging is the most important diagnostic tool in the assessment of GBMs and the current imaging standard is contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Positron emission tomography (PET) has been recommended as a complementary imaging modality. PET provides additional information to MRI, in biological behavior and aggressiveness of the tumor. This study aims to investigate if the combination of PET and MRI can improve the diagnostic assessment of these tumors. Patients and methods: In this study, 22 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria, diagnosed with GBM, and participated in all four 18F-fluorothymidine (FLT)-PET/MR examinations. FLT-PET/MR examinations were performed preoperative (baseline), before the start of the oncological therapy, at two and six weeks into therapy. Optimization of an adaptive thresholding algorithm, a batch processing pipeline, and image feature extraction algorithms were developed and implemented in MATLAB and the analyzing tool imlook4d. Results: There was a significant difference in radiochemotherapy treatment response between long-term and short-term survivors’ tumor volume in MRI (p<0.05), and marginally significant (p<0.10) for maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax), PET tumor volume, and total lesion activity (TLA). Preoperative short-term survivors had on average larger tumor volume, higher SUV, and total lesion activity (TLA). The overall trend seen was that long-term survivors had a better treatment response in both MRI and PET than short-term survivors. During radiochemotherapy, long-term survivors displayed shrinking MR tumor volume after two weeks, and almost no remaining tumor volume was left after six weeks; the short-term survivors display marginal tumor volume reduction during radiochemotherapy. In PET, long-term survivors mean tumor volumes start to decrease two weeks into radiochemotherapy. Short-term survivors do not show any PET volume reduction two and six weeks into radiochemotherapy. For patients with more or less than 200 days progression-free survival, PET volume and TLA were significantly different, and MR volume only marginally significant, suggesting that PET possibly could have added value. Conclusion: The combination of PET and MRI can be used to predict radiochemotherapy response between two and six weeks, predicting overall survival and progression-free survival using MR and PET volume, SUVmax, and TLA. This study is limited by small sample size and further research with greater number of participants is recommended.
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