Can 3'-Deoxy-3'-((18)F) Fluorothymidine Out Perform 2-Deoxy-2-((18)F) Fluoro-D-Glucose Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography in the Diagnosis of Cervical Lymphadenopathy in Patients With Oral/Head and Neck Cancer?

Joshua D Schaefferkoetter, Eric R Carlson, Robert E Heidel
Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2015, 73 (7): 1420-8

PURPOSE: The present study investigated the performance of cellular metabolism imaging with 2-deoxy-2-((18)F) fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) versus cellular proliferation imaging with 3'-deoxy-3'-((18)F) fluorothymidine (FLT) in the detection of cervical lymph node metastases in oral/head and neck cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study to assess a head-to-head performance of FLT imaging and clinical FDG imaging for characterizing cervical lymph node metastases in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral/head and neck region. The primary predictor variable of the study was the presence of FDG or FLT avidity within the cervical lymph nodes. The primary outcome variable was the histologic presence of metastatic SCC in the cervical lymph nodes. The performance was reported in terms of the sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and positive and negative predictive values. The overall accuracy for discriminating positive from negative lymph nodes was evaluated as a function of the positron emission tomography (PET) standardized uptake value (SUV). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were performed for both tracers.

RESULTS: Eleven patients undergoing surgical resection of SCC of the oral/head and neck region underwent preoperative FDG and FLT PET-computed tomography (CT) scans on separate days. The interpretation of the FDG PET-CT imaging resulted in sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 43.2, 99.5, 94.4, 88.9, and 94.7%, respectively. The sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value for FLT PET-CT imaging was 75.7, 99.2, 97.1, 90.3, and 97.7%, respectively. The areas under the curve for the ROC curves were 0.9 and 0.84 for FDG and FLT, respectively. Poor correlation was observed between the SUV for FDG and FLT within the lymph nodes and tumors.

CONCLUSION: FLT showed better overall performance for detecting lymphadenopathy on qualitative assessment within the total nodal population. This notwithstanding, FDG SUV performed better for pathologic discrimination within the visible lymph nodes.

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