Current measures of metabolic heterogeneity within cervical cancer do not predict disease outcome

Frank J. Brooks, Perry W. Grigsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: A previous study evaluated the intra-tumoral heterogeneity observed in the uptake of F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in pre-treatment positron emission tomography (PET) scans of cancers of the uterine cervix as an indicator of disease outcome. This was done via a novel statistic which ostensibly measured the spatial variations in intra-tumoral metabolic activity. In this work, we argue that statistic is intrinsically non-spatial, and that the apparent delineation between unsuccessfully- and successfully-treated patient groups via that statistic is spurious.Methods: We first offer a straightforward mathematical demonstration of our argument. Next, we recapitulate an assiduous re-analysis of the originally published data which was derived from FDG-PET imagery. Finally, we present the results of a principal component analysis of FDG-PET images similar to those previously analyzed.Results: We find that the previously published measure of intra-tumoral heterogeneity is intrinsically non-spatial, and actually is only a surrogate for tumor volume. We also find that an optimized linear combination of more canonical heterogeneity quantifiers does not predict disease outcome.Conclusions: Current measures of intra-tumoral metabolic activity are not predictive of disease outcome as has been claimed previously. The implications of this finding are: clinical categorization of patients based upon these statistics is invalid; more sophisticated, and perhaps innately-geometric, quantifications of metabolic activity are required for predicting disease outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 9 2011


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