FDG-PET. A possible prognostic factor in head and neck cancer

Br J Cancer. 2002 Feb 12;86(4):512-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600114.


Previous studies have shown that high uptake of (18)F-fluoro-2-deoxy-glucose in head and neck cancer, as determined by the standardized uptake value on positron emission tomography scan, was associated with poor survival. The aim of this study was to confirm the association and to establish whether a high standardized uptake value had prognostic significance. Seventy-three consecutive patients with newly diagnosed squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck underwent a positron emission tomography study before treatment. Age, gender, performance status tumour grade, stage, maximal tumour diameter and standardized uptake value were analyzed for their possible association with survival. The median standardized uptake value for all primary tumours was 7.16 (90% range 2.30 to 18.60). In univariate survival analysis the cumulative survival was decreased as the stage, tumour diameter and standardized uptake value increased. An standardized uptake value of 10 was taken as a cut-off for high and low uptake tumours. When these two groups were compared, an standardized uptake value >10 predicted for significantly worse outcome (P=0.003). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that an standardized uptake value >10 provided prognostic information independent of the tumour stage and diameter (P=0.002). We conclude that high FDG uptake (standardized uptake value>10) on positron emission tomography is an important marker for poor outcome in primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Standardized uptake value may be useful in distinguishing those tumours with a more aggressive biological nature and hence identifying patients that require intensive treatment protocols including hyperfractionated radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18