Association between pulmonary uptake of fluorodeoxyglucose detected by positron emission tomography scanning after radiation therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer and radiation pneumonitis

Michael P. Mac Manus, Zhe Ding, Annette Hogg, Alan Herschtal, David Binns, David L. Ball, Rodney J. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To study the relationship between fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in pulmonary tissue after radical radiation therapy (RT) and the presence and severity of radiation pneumonitis. Methods and Materials: In 88 consecutive patients, 18F-FDG-positron emission tomography was performed at a median of 70 days after completion of RT. Patients received 60 Gy in 30 fractions, and all but 15 had concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy. RT-induced pulmonary inflammatory changes occurring within the radiation treatment volume were scored, using a visual (0 to 3) radiotoxicity grading scale, by an observer blinded to the presence or absence of clinical radiation pneumonitis. Radiation pneumonitis was retrospectively graded using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) scale by an observer blinded to the PET radiotoxicity score. Results: There was a significant association between the worst RTOG pneumonitis grade occurring at any time after RT and the positron emission tomograph (PET) radiotoxicity grade (one-sided p = 0.033). The worst RTOG pneumonitis grade occurring after the PET scan was also associated with the PET radiotoxicity grade (one-sided p = 0.035). For every one-level increase in the PET toxicity scale, the risk of a higher RTOG radiation pneumonitis score increased by approximately 40%. The PET radiotoxicity score showed no significant correlation with the duration of radiation pneumonitis. Conclusions: The intensity of FDG uptake in pulmonary tissue after RT determined using a simple visual scoring system showed significant correlation with the presence and severity of radiation pneumonitis. 18F-FDG-PET may be useful in the prediction, diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of radiation pneumonitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1371
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose
  • Lung cancer
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Radiation pneumonitis
  • radiotherapy
  • Response assessment

Cite this