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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1994 Dec 1;30(5):1195-9.

Imaging of head and neck tumors with positron emission tomography and [11C]methionine.

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Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, Turku University Central Hospital, Finland.



To evaluate the value of positron emission tomography and [11C]methionine in imaging of malignant tumors of the head and neck region.


Forty-seven tumors of the head and neck were investigated with 11C-labeled methionine and positron emission tomography before treatment. Because of the resolution limits of the positron emission tomography scanner, all tumors selected for the study were larger than 1 cm in diameter.


Forty-two (91%) of the 46 malignant tumors were clearly visible in the positron emission tomography image (squamous cell carcinoma, n = 26; lymphoma, n = 9; adenocystic carcinoma, n = 2; lymphoepithelioma, n = 1; adenocarcinoma, n = 1; transitional cell carcinoma, n = 1; esthesioneuroblastoma, n = 1; plasmocytoma, n = 1), while three (7%) squamous cell carcinomas were visible, but less easy to detect due to physiological accumulation of the tracer in the area under observation. Only one (2%) squamous cell carcinoma could not be delineated from the positron emission tomography image, and there was no uptake of [11C]methionine in a benign pleomorphic adenoma. No correlation was found between the uptake of [11C]methionine and the histological grade in the subset of squamous cell carcinoma (n = 30). High physiological uptake of [11C]methionine was observed in the salivary glands and the bone marrow.


Malignant head and neck tumors can be effectively imaged with positron emission tomography using [11C]methionine as the tracer.

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