Quantification of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake to detect residual nodal disease in locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after chemoradiotherapy: results from the ECLYPS study

ECLYPS Consortium

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BACKGROUND: The Hopkins criteria were introduced for nodal response evaluation after therapy in head and neck cancer, but its superiority over quantification is not yet confirmed.

METHODS: SUVbody weight thresholds and lesion-to-background ratios were explored in a prospective multicenter study of standardized FDG-PET/CT 12 weeks after CRT in newly diagnosed locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (LAHNSCC) patients (ECLYPS). Reference standard was histology, negative FDG-PET/CT at 12 months after treatment or ≥ 2 years of negative follow-up. Area under the receiver operator characteristics curves (AUROC) were estimated and obtained thresholds were validated in an independent cohort of HNSCC patients (n = 127).

RESULTS: In ECLYPS, 124 patients were available for quantification. With a median follow-up of 20.4 months, 23 (18.5%) nodal neck recurrences were observed. A SUV70 threshold of 2.2 (AUROC = 0.89; sensitivity = 79.7%; specificity = 80.8%) was identified as optimal metric to identify nodal recurrence within 1 year after therapy. For lesion-to-background ratios, an SUV50/SUVliver threshold of 0.96 (AUROC = 0.89; sensitivity = 79.7%; specificity = 82.8%) had the best performance. Compared with Hopkins criteria (AUROC = 0.81), SUV70 and SUV50/SUVliver provided a borderline significant (p = 0.040 and p = 0.094, respectively) improvement. Validation of thresholds yielded similar AUROC values (SUV70 = 0.93, SUV50/SUVliver = 0.95), and were comparable to the Hopkins score (AUROC = 0.91; not statistically significant).

CONCLUSION: FDG quantification detects nodal relapse in LAHNSCC patients. When using EARL standardized PET acquisitions and reconstruction, absolute SUV metrics (SUV70 threshold 2.2) prove robust, yet ratios (SUV50/SUVliver, threshold 0.96) may be more useful in routine clinical care. In this setting, the diagnostic value of quantification is comparable to the Hopkins criteria.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: US National Library for Medicine, NCT01179360. Registered 11 August 2010, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01179360.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1082
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Standard uptake value (SUV)

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