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J Oncol. 2009;2009:208725. doi: 10.1155/2009/208725. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

Clinical Applications of FDG PET and PET/CT in Head and Neck Cancer.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Strasse 22, 81675 Munich, Germany.


18F-FDG PET plays an increasing role in diagnosis and management planning of head and neck cancer. Hybrid PET/CT has promoted the field of molecular imaging in head and neck cancer. This modality is particular relevant in the head and neck region, given the complex anatomy and variable physiologic FDG uptake patterns. The vast majority of 18F-FDG PET and PET/CT applications in head and neck cancer related to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Clinical applications of 18F-FDG PET and PET/CT in head and neck cancer include diagnosis of distant metastases, identification of synchronous 2nd primaries, detection of carcinoma of unknown primary and detection of residual or recurrent disease. Emerging applications are precise delineation of the tumor volume for radiation treatment planning, monitoring treatment, and providing prognostic information. The clinical role of 18F-FDG PET/CT in N0 disease is limited which is in line with findings of other imaging modalities. MRI is usually used for T staging with an intense discussion concerning the preferable imaging modality for regional lymph node staging as PET/CT, MRI, and multi-slice spiral CT are all improving rapidly. Is this review, we summarize recent literature on 18F-FDG PET and PET/CT imaging of head and neck cancer.

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