Abstract

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this article is to summarize the evidence for the value of PET/CT for the management of patients with head and neck squamous cell cancer and suggest best clinical practices. CONCLUSION. FDG PET/CT is a valuable imaging tool for identifying unknown primary tumors in patients with known cervical node metastases leading to management change and is the standard of care for the initial staging of stage III and IV head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs), for assessing therapy response when performed at least 12 weeks after chemoradiation therapy, and for avoiding unnecessary planned neck dissection. Neck dissection is avoided if PET/CT findings are negative-regardless of the size of the residual neck nodes-because survival outcomes are not compromised. FDG PET/CT is valuable in detecting recurrences and metastases during follow-up when suspected because of clinical symptoms and serves as a prognostic marker for patient survival outcomes, for 5 years. Using FDG PET/CT for routine surveillance of HNSCC after 6 months of treatment without any clinical suspicion should be discouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume209
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

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Keywords

  • Diagnosis
  • FDG PET/CT
  • Follow-up
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Head and neck squamous cell cancer
  • Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)
  • Recurrence detection
  • Staging
  • Therapy assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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