A novel metric for quantification of homogeneous and heterogeneous tumors in PET for enhanced clinical outcome prediction

Arman Rahmim, C. Ross Schmidtlein, Andrew Jackson, Sara Sheikhbahaei, Charles Marcus, Saeed Ashrafinia, Madjid Soltani, Rathan M. Subramaniam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Oncologic PET images provide valuable information that can enable enhanced prognosis of disease. Nonetheless, such information is simplified significantly in routine clinical assessment to meet workflow constraints. Examples of typical FDG PET metrics include: (i) SUVmax, (2) total lesion glycolysis (TLG), and (3) metabolic tumor volume (MTV). We have derived and implemented a novel metric for tumor quantification, inspired in essence by a model of generalized equivalent uniform dose as used in radiation therapy. The proposed metric, denoted generalized effective total uptake (gETU), is attractive as it encompasses the abovementioned commonly invoked metrics, and generalizes them, for both homogeneous and heterogeneous tumors, using a single parameter a. We evaluated this new metric for improved overall survival (OS) prediction on two different baseline FDG PET/CT datasets: (a) 113 patients with squamous cell cancer of the oropharynx, and (b) 72 patients with locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed, where the subjects were subdivided into two groups using the median threshold, from which the hazard ratios (HR) were computed in Cox proportional hazards regression. For the oropharyngeal cancer dataset, MTV, TLG, SUVmax, SUVmean and SUVpeak produced HR values of 1.86, 3.02, 1.34, 1.36 and 1.62, while the proposed gETU metric for a = 0.25 (greater emphasis on volume information) enabled significantly enhanced OS prediction with HR = 3.94. For the pancreatic cancer dataset, MTV, TLG, SUVmax, SUVmean and SUVpeak resulted in HR values of 1.05, 1.25, 1.42, 1.45 and 1.52, while gETU at a = 3.2 (greater emphasis on SUV information) arrived at an improved HR value of 1.61. Overall, the proposed methodology allows placement of differing degrees of emphasis on tumor volume versus uptake for different types of tumors to enable enhanced clinical outcome prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 4 2015


  • PET
  • heterogeneity
  • metric
  • prediction
  • quantification
  • survival analysis
  • texture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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