Predicting tumor hypoxia in non-small cell lung cancer by combining CT, FDG PET and dynamic contrast-enhanced CT

<p><b>Background:</b> Most solid tumors contain inadequately oxygenated (i.e., hypoxic) regions, which tend to be more aggressive and treatment resistant. Hypoxia PET allows visualization of hypoxia and may enable treatment adaptation. However, hypoxia PET imaging is expensive, time-consuming and not widely available. We aimed to predict hypoxia levels in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) using more easily available imaging modalities: FDG-PET/CT and dynamic contrast-enhanced CT (DCE-CT).</p> <p><b>Material and methods:</b> For 34 NSCLC patients, included in two clinical trials, hypoxia HX4-PET/CT, planning FDG-PET/CT and DCE-CT scans were acquired before radiotherapy. Scans were non-rigidly registered to the planning CT. Tumor blood flow (BF) and blood volume (BV) were calculated by kinetic analysis of DCE-CT images. Within the gross tumor volume, independent clusters, i.e., supervoxels, were created based on FDG-PET/CT. For each supervoxel, tumor-to-background ratios (TBR) were calculated (median SUV/aorta SUV<sub>mean</sub>) for HX4-PET/CT and supervoxel features (median, SD, entropy) for the other modalities. Two random forest models (cross-validated: 10 folds, five repeats) were trained to predict the hypoxia TBR; one based on CT, FDG, BF and BV, and one with only CT and FDG features. Patients were split in a training (trial NCT01024829) and independent test set (trial NCT01210378). For each patient, predicted, and observed hypoxic volumes (HV) (TBR > 1.2) were compared.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Fifteen patients (3291 supervoxels) were used for training and 19 patients (1502 supervoxels) for testing. The model with all features (RMSE training: 0.19 ± 0.01, test: 0.27) outperformed the model with only CT and FDG-PET features (RMSE training: 0.20 ± 0.01, test: 0.29). All tumors of the test set were correctly classified as normoxic or hypoxic (HV > 1 cm<sup>3</sup>) by the best performing model.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> We created a data-driven methodology to predict hypoxia levels and hypoxia spatial patterns using CT, FDG-PET and DCE-CT features in NSCLC. The model correctly classifies all tumors, and could therefore, aid tumor hypoxia classification and patient stratification.</p>