Molecular Imaging Using PET/CT for Radiation Therapy Planning for Adult Cancers: Current Status and Expanding Applications Academic Article uri icon


  • Accurate tumor delineation is a priority in radiation therapy (RT). Metabolic imaging has a key and evolving role in target volume selection and delineation. This is especially so for non-small cell lung cancer, squamous cell cancer of the head and neck, and lymphoma, for which positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) is complimentary to structural imaging modalities, not only in delineating primary tumors, but also often in revealing previously undiagnosed regional nodal disease. At some sites, PET/CT has been confirmed to enable target size reduction compared with structural imaging alone, with enhanced normal tissue sparing and potentially allowing for dose escalation. These contributions often dramatically affect RT strategies. However, some limitations exist to the use of fluorodeoxyglucose-PET in RT planning, including its relatively poor spatial resolution and partial voluming effects for small tumors. A role is developing for contributions from metabolic imaging to RT planning at other tumor sites and exciting new applications for the use of non-fluorodeoxyglucose metabolic markers for RT planning.

publication date

  • 2018