Tumor hypoxia contributes to radiation resistance. A noninvasive assessment of tumor hypoxia would be valuable for prognostication and possibly selection for hypoxia-targeted therapies. 18F-pentafluorinated etanidazole (18F-EF5) is a nitroimidazole derivative that has demonstrated promise as a positron emission tomography (PET) hypoxia imaging agent in preclinical and clinical studies. However, correlation of imageable hypoxia by 18F-EF5 PET with clinical outcomes after radiation therapy remains limited.Our study prospectively enrolled 28 patients undergoing radiation therapy for localized lung or other tumors to receive pretreatment 18F-EF5 PET imaging. Depending on the level of 18F-EF5 tumor uptake, patients underwent functional manipulation of tumor oxygenation with either carbogen breathing or oral dichloroacetate followed by repeated 18F-EF5 PET. The hypoxic subvolume of tumor was defined as the proportion of tumor voxels exhibiting higher 18F-EF5 uptake than the 95th percentile of 18F-EF5 uptake in the blood pool. Tumors with a hypoxic subvolume = 10% on baseline 18F-EF5 PET imaging were classified as hypoxic by imaging. A Cox model was used to assess the correlation between imageable hypoxia and clinical outcomes after treatment.At baseline, imageable hypoxia was demonstrated in 43% of all patients (12 of 28), including 6 of 16 patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer treated with stereotactic ablative radiation therapy and 6 of 12 patients with other cancers. Carbogen breathing was significantly associated with decreased imageable hypoxia, while dichloroacetate did not result in a significant change under our protocol conditions. Tumors with imageable hypoxia had a higher incidence of local recurrence at 12 months (30%) than those without (0%) (P < .01).Noninvasive hypoxia imaging by 18F-EF5 PET identified imageable hypoxia in about 40% of tumors in our study population. Local tumor recurrence after highly conformal radiation therapy was higher in tumors with imageable hypoxia.
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