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Robust Intra-Tumor Partitioning to Identify High-Risk Subregions for Prognosis in Lung Cancer

J Wu

J Wu*, M Gensheimer , X Dong , D Rubin , S Napel , M Diehn , B Loo , R Li , Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA


SU-D-207B-5 (Sunday, July 31, 2016) 2:05 PM - 3:00 PM Room: 207B

To develop an intra-tumor partitioning framework for identifying high-risk subregions from 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and CT imaging, and to test whether tumor burden associated with the high-risk subregions is prognostic of outcomes in lung cancer.

In this institutional review board-approved retrospective study, we analyzed the pre-treatment FDG-PET and CT scans of 44 lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy. A novel, intra-tumor partitioning method was developed based on a two-stage clustering process: first at patient-level, each tumor was over-segmented into many superpixels by k-means clustering of integrated PET and CT images; next, tumor subregions were identified by merging previously defined superpixels via population-level hierarchical clustering. The volume associated with each of the subregions was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier analysis regarding its prognostic capability in predicting overall survival (OS) and out-of-field progression (OFP).

Three spatially distinct subregions were identified within each tumor, which were highly robust to uncertainty in PET/CT co-registration. Among these, the volume of the most metabolically active and metabolically heterogeneous solid component of the tumor was predictive of OS and OFP on the entire cohort, with a concordance index or CI = 0.66-0.67. When restricting the analysis to patients with stage III disease (n = 32), the same subregion achieved an even higher CI = 0.75 (HR = 3.93, logrank p = 0.002) for predicting OS, and a CI = 0.76 (HR = 4.84, logrank p = 0.002) for predicting OFP. In comparison, conventional imaging markers including tumor volume, SUVmax and MTV50 were not predictive of OS or OFP, with CI mostly below 0.60 (p < 0.001).

We propose a robust intra-tumor partitioning method to identify clinically relevant, high-risk subregions in lung cancer. We envision that this approach will be applicable to identifying useful imaging biomarkers in many cancer types.

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