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Laryngoscope. 2009 Nov;119(11):2150-5. doi: 10.1002/lary.20523.

Revisiting the role of positron-emission tomography/computed tomography in determining the need for planned neck dissection following chemoradiation for advanced head and neck cancer.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA. cgourin1@jhmi.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS:

Planned neck dissection following chemoradiation (CR) has been advocated in patients with head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) with advanced nodal disease and a clinical complete response to CR because of the potential for residual occult nodal disease. The utility of positron-emission tomography/computed tomography (PET-CT) in identifying occult nodal disease in this scenario is controversial.

METHODS:

The medical records of all patients treated with CR for advanced HNSCC with N2 or N3 disease from December 2003 to June 2007 were reviewed. Patients with a complete clinical response were included if PET-CT performed 8 to 11 weeks after CR showed no distant disease and they underwent planned neck dissection.

RESULTS:

Thirty-two patients met study criteria. PET-CT was positive for residual nodal disease in 20 patients (63%). Pathology revealed carcinoma in 10 patients (31%): six of 20 patients with positive PET-CT scans (30%) and four of 12 patients with negative PET-CT scans (33%). The sensitivity and specificity of PET-CT was 60% and 36%. Regional recurrence developed in two patients (6%) who were not successfully salvaged.

CONCLUSIONS:

PET-CT performed 8 to 11 weeks after CR does not reliably predict the need for planned post-treatment neck dissection in patients with a complete clinical response following CR. Regional recurrence rates are comparable to those reported for patients observed with PET-CT, suggesting no advantage for planned neck dissection, and salvage rates were poor. These data suggest that delaying the timing of PET-CT, with surgery reserved for positive findings, is a reasonable alternative to planned neck dissection to avoid unnecessary surgery.

PMID:
19544378
DOI:
10.1002/lary.20523
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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