Utility of PET/CT imaging performed early after surgical resection in the adjuvant treatment planning for head and neck cancer

Stephanie A Shintani, Robert L Foote, Val J Lowe, Paul D Brown, Yolanda I Garces, Jan L Kasperbauer
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2008 February 1, 70 (2): 322-9

PURPOSE: To evaluate the utility of positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) early after surgical resection and before postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: We studied a prospective cohort of 91 consecutive patients referred for postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy after complete surgical resection. Tumor histologies included 62 squamous cell and 29 non-squamous cell cancers. Median time between surgery and postoperative PET/CT was 28 days (range, 13-75 days). Findings suspicious for persistent/recurrent cancer or distant metastasis were biopsied. Correlation was made with changes in patient care.

RESULTS: Based on PET/CT findings, 24 patients (26.4%) underwent biopsy of suspicious sites. Three patients with suspicious findings did not undergo biopsy because the abnormalities were not easily accessible. Eleven (45.8%) biopsies were positive for cancer. Treatment was changed for 14 (15.4%) patients (11 positive biopsy and 3 nonbiopsied patients) as a result. Treatment changes included abandonment of radiation therapy and switching to palliative chemotherapy or hospice care (4), increasing the radiation therapy dose (6), extending the radiation therapy treatment volume and increasing the dose (1), additional surgery (2), and adding palliative chemotherapy to palliative radiation therapy (1). Treatment for recurrent cancer and primary skin cancer were significant predictors of having a biopsy-proven, treatment-changing positive PET/CT (p < 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: Even with an expectedly high rate of false positive PET/CT scans in this early postoperative period, PET/CT changed patient management in a relatively large proportion of patients. PET/CT can be recommended in the postoperative, preradiation therapy setting with the understanding that treatment-altering PET/CT findings should be biopsied for confirmation.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"