This issue of Seminars in Nuclear Medicine deals with a watershed event in cancer treatment-the combined use of functional and anatomical information to guide therapeutic interventions. The use of positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in radiation treatment planning and tumor response evaluation brings a paradigm change in the development of image-guided therapies into routine clinical practice. The implications, as seen in the following articles, are not only promising but also groundbreaking. And, as in every new scientific breakthrough, each step forward generates a myriad of additional important clinical and research questions. Functional imaging takes advantage of the subtle differences between normal and malignant tissues at the cellular level to reveal in vivo unique functional characteristics of neoplasms. The ultimate goal of the partnership between nuclear medicine physicians and radiation oncologists is to use this information with absolute clarity in target definition for radiation treatment planning and therapy, as well as response evaluation. Functional imaging can provide metabolic information and behavioral correlation along with the anatomical imaging for correlative target delineation. Additionally, as a purely diagnostic instrument, PET/CT provides a tool for oncologists to make critical decisions regarding radiation treatment planning modifications secondary to changes in tumor staging (up or down), treatment field modifications, localized control, sites of residual and/or metastatic disease and post therapy response evaluation. The articles in this issue of the seminars provide insights into the current state-of-the-art of functional imaging techniques, mostly centered on the use of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT in image guided oncologic therapies. Because it is a novel science, the future of image-guided functional treatment planning is bright with technologic and biologic innovations, translational research and new clinical applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging