PURPOSE The objective of this study was to determine the negative predictive value (NPV) of positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) for the clinically N0 neck on the basis of neck dissection. METHODS Participants with newly diagnosed, first-time, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and at least one clinically N0 neck side for which dissection was planned were included. A total of 287 participants were prospectively enrolled from 23 American College of Radiology Imaging Network-qualified institutions. PET/ CT was compared with findings at neck dissection. RESULTS PET/CT scans and pathology findings were available for 270 N0 neck sides from 212 participants. For visual assessment, the NPV specific to the clinical-N0 sides was 0.868 (95% CI, 0.803 to 0.925). For dichotomized maximum standardized uptake value, the NPVs specific to the nodal basins were 0.940 (95% CI, 0.928 to 0.952) and 0.937 (95% CI, 0.925 to 0.949) at prespecified cutoffs of 2.5 and 3.5, respectively. The optimal cutoff maximum standardized uptake value was determined to be 1.8, with an NPV of 0.942 (95% CI, 0.930 to 0.953). The PET/CT-informed surgical treatment plan was changed in 51 of 237 participants (22%) compared with the PET/CT-blinded surgical plan. In 34 participants (14%), this led to planned dissection of additional nodal levels. In 12 participants (5%), this led to fewer planned dissected nodal levels. Negative PET/ CT scans in N0 necks was true negative in 87% and false negative in 13%. CONCLUSION [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT has high NPV for the N0 neck in T2 to T4 HNSCC. The surgical treatment plans on the basis of PET/CT findings may be changed in approximately 22% of this group. These findings suggest that [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT may assist the clinician in deciding on the best therapy for the clinically N0 neck in HNSCC. Well-designed clinical trials should be performed to test the outcome of omitting neck dissection by using PET/CT.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research