Purpose: The objective was to evaluate the frequency and prognostic significance of occult supraclavicular lymph node metastases identified by 2-[(18)F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in patients with cervical carcinoma.
Patients and methods: Between March 1998 and January 2002, 186 patients with a new diagnosis of cervical cancer underwent whole-body FDG-PET before therapy. Fourteen patients had abnormal FDG uptake in left supraclavicular lymph nodes without palpable disease. All 14 patients underwent sonographically guided fine-needle aspiration of the left supraclavicular lymph nodes. One patient refused therapy, 6 were treated with palliative intent, and 7 received definitive irradiation and concurrent chemotherapy. Survival was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method.
Results: The overall frequency of FDG-positive left supraclavicular lymph nodes was 8% (14/186). Metastasis was pathologically confirmed in all 14 patients. Therefore, the positive predictive value of abnormal FDG uptake in left supraclavicular lymph nodes was 100%. Nineteen percent of all patients (35/186) had abnormal FDG uptake in para-aortic lymph nodes. The frequency of positive FDG uptake in the left supraclavicular lymph nodes was 40% (14/35) in those with para-aortic lymph node uptake and 15% in those with stage IIIb disease. The median overall survival was 7.5 months. At last follow-up, 11 patients were dead and 3 were alive with disease. All patients developed metastatic disease, most commonly to bone and lung.
Conclusion: The positive predictive value of abnormal FDG uptake in left supraclavicular lymph nodes was 100%. Prognosis for these patients was dismal despite aggressive therapy.