DOI: 10.1007/s00259-017-3890-2Pages: 759-767

Changes in multimodality functional imaging parameters early during chemoradiation predict treatment response in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer

1. The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Head and Neck Unit

2. The Institute of Cancer Research, Radiotherapy and Imaging Division

3. The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Clinical Radiology

4. The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Nuclear Medicine

5. The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, CRUK Cancer Imaging Centre

Correspondence to:
Kee H. Wong
Tel: 02086613638




To assess the optimal timing and predictive value of early intra-treatment changes in multimodality functional and molecular imaging (FMI) parameters as biomarkers for clinical remission in patients receiving chemoradiation for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


Thirty-five patients with stage III-IVb (AJCC 7th edition) HNSCC prospectively underwent 18F–FDG-PET/CT, and diffusion-weighted (DW), dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) and susceptibility-weighted MRI at baseline, week 1 and week 2 of chemoradiation. Patients with evidence of persistent or recurrent disease during follow-up were classed as non-responders. Changes in FMI parameters at week 1 and week 2 were compared between responders and non-responders with the Mann–Whitney U test. The significance threshold was set at a p value of <0.05.


There were 27 responders and 8 non-responders. Responders showed a greater reduction in PET-derived tumor total lesion glycolysis (TLG40%; p = 0.007) and maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax; p = 0.034) after week 1 than non-responders but these differences were absent by week 2. In contrast, it was not until week 2 that MRI-derived parameters were able to discriminate between the two groups: larger fractional increases in primary tumor apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC; p < 0.001), volume transfer constant (Ktrans; p = 0.012) and interstitial space volume fraction (Ve; p = 0.047) were observed in responders versus non-responders. ADC was the most powerful predictor (∆ >17%, AUC 0.937).


Early intra-treatment changes in FDG-PET, DW and DCE MRI-derived parameters are predictive of ultimate response to chemoradiation in HNSCC. However, the optimal timing for assessment with FDG-PET parameters (week 1) differed from MRI parameters (week 2). This highlighted the importance of scanning time points for the design of FMI risk-stratified interventional studies.

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  • Accepted: Nov 13, 2017
  • Online: Nov 21, 2017

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