Purpose: The role of 2-deoxy-2-[F-18]fluoro-D-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) was studied in a variety of cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) and nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC), with several presentations indicating that for these clinical entities a "whole-body" (i.e., eyes to thighs) may yield little additional information. Therefore, we were prompted to review our experience with PET/computed tomography (CT) in the management of patients with HNSCC and NPC. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective study of 133 patients with HNSCC, 23-90 years old (average: 58.2±12.7) and 26 patients with NPC, ages 16-75 (average: 47.3±17.1), who had whole body PET/CT at our institution from Jan 2003 to Nov 2006. Reinterpretation of the imaging studies for accuracy and data analysis from medical records was performed. Lesions identified on PET/CT below the level of the adrenal glands were recorded and tabulated. Results: Lesions were identified below the adrenal glands in seven patients (5.2%) with HNSCC. These included hepatic and osseous metastases from HNSCC in two patients (1.5%), a new renal cancer (0.75%), a new pancreatic cancer (0.75%), a new colon cancer (0.75%) and findings proven benign on follow-up (focal colon uptake in one patient and an inflammatory inguinal lymph node in another patient; 1.5%). Lesions were identified below the adrenal glands in three patients (11.5%) with NPC. These included osseous metastases from NPC in two patients (7.7%) and findings proven benign on follow-up (focal colon uptake in one patient; 3.84%). Conclusion: This study suggests that whole body PET/CT imaging in HNSCC has a relatively low yield (3%, 95% CI: 1.33-8.42) of significant findings below the level of the adrenal glands. Therefore, implementing a more limited protocol (through the level of adrenal glands), especially in low-risk cases of HNSCC, may be considered. However, whole body PET/CT imaging in NPC may have a significant yield (7.7%, 95% CI: 1.02-25.26) of medically relevant findings below the level of the adrenal glands. Thus, the whole body (i.e., vertex to thighs) PET/CT scan of NPC patients appears to be the appropriate imaging protocol for this population. This recommendation requires further evaluation and validation in larger prospective studies.
- Head and neck
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research