Anatomic, functional and molecular imaging in lung cancer precision radiation therapy: Treatment response assessment and radiation therapy personalization

Michael MacManus, Sarah Everitt, Tanja Schimek-Jasch, X. Allen Li, Ursula Nestle, Feng Ming Spring Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: This article reviews key imaging modalities for lung cancer patients treated with radiation therapy (RT) and considers their actual or potential contributions to critical decision-making. Methods: An international group of researchers with expertise in imaging in lung cancer patients treated with RT considered the relevant literature on modalities, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). These perspectives were coordinated to summarize the current status of imaging in lung cancer and flag developments with future implications. Results: Although there are no useful randomized trials of different imaging modalities in lung cancer, multiple prospective studies indicate that management decisions are frequently impacted by the use of complementary imaging modalities, leading both to more appropriate treatments and better outcomes. This is especially true of 18F-fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG)-PET/CT which is widely accepted to be the standard imaging modality for staging of lung cancer patients, for selection for potentially curative RT and for treatment planning. PET is also more accurate than CT for predicting survival after RT. PET imaging during RT is also correlated with survival and makes response-adapted therapies possible. PET tracers other than FDG have potential for imaging important biological process in tumors, including hypoxia and proliferation. MRI has superior accuracy in soft tissue imaging and the MRI Linac is a rapidly developing technology with great potential for online monitoring and modification of treatment. Conclusions: The role of imaging in RT-treated lung cancer patients is evolving rapidly and will allow increasing personalization of therapy according to the biology of both the tumor and dose limiting normal tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)670-688
Number of pages19
JournalTranslational Lung Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Lung cancer
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Radiation therapy (RT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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