Precise dose delivery to malignant tissue in radiotherapy is of paramount importance for treatment efficacy while minimizing morbidity of surrounding normal tissues. Current conventional imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT), are used to define the three-dimensional shape and volume of the tumor for radiation therapy. In many cases, these radiographic imaging (RI) techniques are ambiguous or provide limited information with regard to tumor margins and histopathology. Molecular imaging (MI) modalities, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon-emission computed-tomography (SPECT) that can characterize tumor tissue, are rapidly becoming routine in radiation therapy. However, their inherent low spatial resolution impedes tumor delineation for the purposes of radiation treatment planning. This review will focus on applications of nanotechnology to synergize imaging modalities in order to accurately highlight, as well as subsequently target, tumor cells. Furthermore, using such nano-agents for imaging, simultaneous coupling of novel therapeutics including radiosensitizers can be delivered specifically to the tumor to maximize tumor cell killing while sparing normal tissue.
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Vol. 177 • No. 4