Multiparametric functional MRI and 18F-FDG-PET for survival prediction in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma treated with (chemo)radiation

Roland M Martens, Thomas Koopman, Cristina Lavini, Meedie Ali, Carel F W Peeters, Daniel P Noij, Gerben Zwezerijnen, J Tim Marcus, Marije R Vergeer, C René Leemans, Remco de Bree, Pim de Graaf, Ronald Boellaard, Jonas A Castelijns

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Objectives: To assess (I) correlations between diffusion-weighted (DWI), intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM), dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI, and 18F-FDG-PET/CT imaging parameters capturing tumor characteristics and (II) their predictive value of locoregional recurrence-free survival (LRFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treated with (chemo)radiotherapy. Methods: Between 2014 and 2018, patients with histopathologically proven HNSCC, planned for curative (chemo) radiotherapy, were prospectively included. Pretreatment clinical, anatomical, and functional imaging parameters (obtained by DWI/IVIM, DCE-MRI, and 18F-FDG-PET/CT) were extracted for primary tumors (PT) and lymph node metastases. Correlations and differences between parameters were assessed. The predictive value of LRFS and OS was assessed, performing univariable, multivariable Cox and CoxBoost regression analyses. Results: In total, 70 patients were included. Significant correlations between 18F-FDG-PET parameters and DWI-/DCE volume parameters were found (r > 0.442, p < 0.002). The combination of HPV (HR = 0.903), intoxications (HR = 1.065), PT ADC GTV (HR = 1.252), K trans (HR = 1.223), and V e (HR = 1.215) was predictive for LRFS (C-index = 0.546; p = 0.023). N-stage (HR = 1.058), HPV positivity (HR = 0.886), hypopharyngeal tumor location (HR = 1.111), ADC GTV (HR = 1.102), ADC mean (HR = 1.137), D* (HR = 0.862), K trans (HR = 1.106), V e (HR = 1.195), SUV max (HR = 1.094), and TLG (HR = 1.433) were predictive for OS (C-index = 0.664; p = 0.046). Conclusions: Functional imaging parameters, performing DWI/IVIM, DCE-MRI, and 18F-FDG-PET/CT, yielded complementary value in capturing tumor characteristics. More specific, intoxications, HPV-negative status, large tumor volume-related parameters, high permeability (K trans), and high extravascular extracellular space (V e) parameters were predictive for adverse locoregional recurrence-free survival and adverse overall survival. Low cellularity (high ADC) and high metabolism (high SUV) were additionally predictive for decreased overall survival. These different predictive factors added to estimated locoregional and overall survival. Key Points: • Parameters of DWI/IVIM, DCE-MRI, and 18F-FDG-PET/CT were able to capture complementary tumor characteristics. • Multivariable analysis revealed that intoxications, HPV negativity, large tumor volume and high vascular permeability (K trans), and extravascular extracellular space (Ve) were complementary predictive for locoregional recurrence. • In addition to predictive parameters for locoregional recurrence, also high cellularity (low ADC) and high metabolism (high SUV) were complementary predictive for overall survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-628
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number2
Early online date26 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Positron emission tomography computed tomography
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck
  • Survival analysis


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