PURPOSETo investigate the behavior of tumor subvolumes of high [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake as seen on clinical four-dimensional (4D) FDG-positron emission tomography (PET) scans.METHODS AND MATERIALSFour-dimensional FDG-PET/computed tomography scans from 13 patients taken before radiotherapy were available. The analysis was focused on regions of high uptake that are potential dose-painting targets. A total of 17 lesions (primary tumors and lymph nodes) were analyzed. On each one of the five phases of the 4D scan a classification algorithm was applied to obtain the region of highest uptake and segment the tumor volume. We looked at the behavior of both the high-uptake subvolume, called "Boost," and the segmented tumor volume, called "Target." We measured several quantities that characterize the Target and Boost volumes and quantified correlations between them.RESULTSThe behavior of the Target could not always predict the behavior of the Boost. The shape deformation of the Boost regions was on average 133% higher than that of the Target. The gross to internal target volume expansion was on average 27.4% for the Target and 64% for the Boost, a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05). Finally, the inhale-to-exhale phase (20%) had the highest shape deformation for the Boost regions.CONCLUSIONSA complex relationship between the measured quantities for the Boost and Target volumes is revealed. The results suggest that in cases in which advanced therapy techniques such as dose painting are being used, a close examination of the 4D PET scan should be performed.