Screening for distant metastases in patients with head and neck cancer: Is there a role for 18FDG-PET?

Jolijn Brouwer, Asaf Senft, Remco De Bree, Emile F.I. Comans, Richard P. Golding, Jonas A. Castelijns, Otto S. Hoekstra, C. René Leemans

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The detection of distant metastases and second primary tumours at the time of initial evaluation changes the prognosis and influences the selection of treatment modality in patients with HNSCC. Until recently chest CT was the single most effective test to screen for distant metastases in HNSCC patients. In this observational cohort study we prospectively compared the yield of whole body 18FDG-PET and chest CT to detect distant metastases and synchronous primary tumours. The results of whole body 18FDG-PET and chest CT were analysed in 34 consecutive HNSCC patients with previously established risk factors for the presence of distant metastases. Four patients were diagnosed with distant metastases or second primary tumours: CT as well as 18FDG-PET identified one patient with lung metastases and another with primary lung cancer. In addition, 18FDG-PET detected second primary tumours in two patients (hepatocellular carcinoma and abdominal adenocarcinoma). However increased uptake sites at 18FDG-PET in lung, liver and pelvis in five patients were not confirmed by other imaging modalities. The added value of whole body 18FDG-PET versus chest CT was to identify unknown malignancy in 6% of the patients. Confirmation of positive 18FDG-PET findings is feasible and necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-280
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Chest CT
  • Distant metastases
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Screening
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Synchronous primary tumours

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