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Nucl Med Commun. 2007 May;28(5):365-71.

In search of an unknown primary tumour presenting with cervical metastases: performance of hybrid FDG-PET-CT.

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Nuclear Medicine Department of Cancer Research Center Rene Huguenin, Saint-Cloud, France.



In patients with cervical lymph node metastases from unknown primary tumour (UPT), the primary tumour is frequently localized in the head and neck area. Because the detection of the primary tumour is of importance to optimize the patient's management and allows a targeted therapy, the performances of hybrid positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) using fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) were evaluated in a retrospective study.


Thirty-eight consecutive patients with cervical lymph node metastases, and in whom the primary was not detected by the comprehensive diagnostic work-up including endoscopy and conventional imaging methods, were referred for a PET-CT scan.


PET-CT was positive with an increased FDG focal uptake suggesting the potential primary site in 68% of patients (26/38), which guided the biopsies during a second rigid panendoscopy in 17 of these 26 patients: 13 primary tumours were then histologically proven. PET-CT showed distant lesions in three patients. It had treatment-related implications in 23/38 patients (60%), consisting of modification of radiation planning, surgery or abstention from surgery.


Hybrid FDG-PET-CT is helpful for the detection of a potential head and neck primary tumour. Furthermore, hybrid FDG-PET-CT has the ability to diagnose occult or distant second tumour and metastatic disease and modify patient management.

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