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Head Neck. 2009 Apr;31(4):442-51. doi: 10.1002/hed.20978.

Positron emission tomography in surveillance of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after definitive chemoradiotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.



We assessed the role of (18)F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose positron emission tomography (PET) in detecting head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) after definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT).


A prospective study presented 80 PET before and after CRT for 44 patients, including 44 first-time post-CRT scans performed between 12 and 17 weeks after radiotherapy completion, as well as 10 repeated scans in the subsequent follow-up. PET interpretations were compared with clinicopathologic outcomes.


PET demonstrated better performance than CT in post-CRT surveillance. Considering all 54 post-CRT PET scans, sensitivity for detecting primary tumors was 100%, specificity 93%, positive predictive value (PPV) 80%, and negative predictive value (NPV) 100%. For cervical diseases, sensitivity was 100%, specificity 98%, PPV 92%, and NPV 100%. For distant metastases, sensitivity was 100%, specificity 98%, PPV 86%, and NPV 100%.


Negative PET readings were reliable for predicting free of HNSCC and helpful for selected patients in post-CRT surveillance.

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