Imaging for Target Delineation in Head and Neck Cancer Radiotherapy
The definition of tumor involved volumes in patients with head and neck cancer poses great challenges with the increasing use of highly conformal radiotherapy techniques eg, volumetric modulated arc therapy and intensity modulated proton therapy. The risk of underdosing the tumor might increase unless great care is taken in the process. The information gained from imaging is increasing with both PET and MRI becoming readily available for the definition of targets. The information gained from these techniques is indeed multidimensional as one often acquire data on eg, metabolism, diffusion, and hypoxia together with anatomical and structural information. Nevertheless, much work remains to fully exploit the available information on a patient-specific level. Multimodality target definition in radiotherapy is a chain of processes that must be individually scrutinized, optimized and quality assured. Any uncertainties or errors in image acquisition, reconstruction, interpretation, and delineation are systematic errors and hence will potentially have a detrimental effect on the entire radiotherapy treatment and hence; the chance of cure or the risk of unnecessary side effects. Common guidelines and procedures create a common minimum standard and ground for evaluation and development. In Denmark, the treatment of head and neck cancer is organized within the multidisciplinary Danish Head and Neck Cancer Group (DAHANCA). The radiotherapy quality assurance group of DAHANCA organized a workshop in January 2020 with participants from oncology, radiology, and nuclear medicine from all centers in Denmark, treating patients with head and neck cancer. The participants agreed on a national guideline on imaging for target delineation in head and neck cancer radiotherapy, which has been approved by the DAHANCA group. The guidelines are available in the Supplementary. The use of multimodality imaging is being recommended for the planning of all radical treatments with a macroscopic tumor. 2-[18F]FDG-PET/CT should be available, preferable in the treatment position. The recommended MRI sequences are T1, T2 with and without fat suppression, and T1 with contrast enhancement, preferable in the treatment position. The interpretation of clinical information, including thorough physical examination as well as imaging, should be done in a multidisciplinary setting with an oncologist, radiologist, and nuclear medicine specialist.