Regional changes in brain 18F-FDG uptake after prophylactic cranial irradiation and chemotherapy in small cell lung cancer may reflect functional changes

Naghmehossadat Eshghi, Linda L. Garland, Gagandeep Choudhary, Charles C. Hsu, Anna Eshghi, James Han, Russell J. Hamilton, Elizabeth Krupinski, Phillip H. Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy followed by prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) is associated with increased survival in patients with small cell lung cancer but is associated with fatigue and cognitive impairment. This retrospective study evaluated regional differences in 18F-FDG uptake by the brain before and after PCI. The null hypothesis was that direct toxic effects on the brain from PCI and chemotherapy are symmetric; thus, asymmetric deviations may reflect functional changes due to therapy. Methods: Electronic medical records from 2013 to 2016 were reviewed for patients with small cell lung cancer, MRI of brain negative for metastasis, and 18F-FDG PET/CT scans before and after PCI. As the standard of care, patients received first-line chemotherapy or chemoradiation to the thorax followed by PCI. The 18F-FDG PET/CT scans nearest the PCI were selected. Sixteen patients met these initial criteria. Commercially available PET software was used to register and subtract the PET scans before and after PCI to obtain difference maps. Occipital and cerebellar regions were excluded from the final statistical analysis given the known high variability and misregistration. The χ2 test was used to analyze the data. Results: Two patients had 18F-FDG uptake differences only in the occipital and cerebellar regions. The software registration failed on 1 patient's scans. Therefore, 13 patients were included in the final analysis. Nine of 13 patients demonstrated significant unilateral changes in only 1 region of the brain, and 3 of 13 showed significant changes unilaterally in 2 regions. The χ2 test revealed a significant unilateral regional difference on a patient level (χ2 5 6.24, P 5 0.025). The most commonly affected brain region was the frontal lobe. Conclusion: Significantly more patients had unilateral than bilateral regional differences (both increases and decreases) in 18F-FDG uptake in the brain before and after PCI. This finding suggests that differences in unilateral distribution are related to functional changes, since direct toxicity alone from PCI and chemotherapy would be symmetric. The frontal region was the most commonly affected, suggesting a potential contributing etiology for cognitive impairment and decreased executive function after therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-358
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of nuclear medicine technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Lung cancer
  • Molecular imaging
  • Prophylactic cranial irradiation
  • Small cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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