Purpose: Tumor uptake of 2-[(18)F] fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) may relate to outcome in cancer patients. Pretreatment FDG uptake was evaluated as a predictor of local control (LC) and disease-free survival (DFS) in patients with head-and-neck cancer managed primarily either by radiotherapy (RT) or surgery.
Patients and methods: Tumor FDG uptake using the Standardized Uptake Value (SUV) was measured in 120 patients studied prospectively using positron emission tomography (PET). Treatment consisted of either radical RT with or without chemotherapy (73 patients) or radical surgery with or without postoperative RT (47 patients). Median follow-up of the surviving patients was 48 months.
Results: The median SUV was higher in 46 patients who failed treatment than in the remaining controlled patients (5.8 vs. 3.6, p = 0.002). In monovariate analysis, patients with tumors having high FDG uptake (SUV > median, 4.76) had poorer LC (p = 0.003) and DFS (p = 0.005). This difference was also observed when the RT and surgery groups were analyzed separately. In the multivariate analysis T-category (p = 0.005) and SUV (p = 0.046) remained independent adverse factors for LC, whereas N-category (p = 0.004), T-category (p = 0.02) and SUV (p = 0.05) were independent determinants of DFS.
Conclusion: These results suggest that pretreatment tumor FDG uptake represents an independent prognostic factor in patients with head-and-neck cancers, whatever the primary treatment modality. Tumors having high FDG uptake are at greater risk of failure and should be considered for more aggressive multimodality therapy.