FDG PET as a procedure for detecting simultaneous tumours in head and neck cancer patients

Nucl Med Commun. 2005 Mar;26(3):239-44. doi: 10.1097/00006231-200503000-00008.


Aim: The presence of simultaneous primary tumours in other regions affects the prognosis and management decisions of head and neck cancer patients. Therefore, early detection of these tumours is necessary. Recent improvements in positron emission tomography (PET) have made it possible to examine the patient's whole body. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the clinical contribution of whole-body PET using fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) for head and neck cancer patients.

Methods: Fifty-three consecutive patients with previously untreated head and neck cancer were examined. Whole-body FDG PET imaging was performed at 1 h after injection of (18)F-FDG. A 3-D acquisition was undertaken and iterative reconstruction was performed. The final diagnosis of simultaneous primary tumour was established by histological findings or clinical follow-up.

Results: Of 53 patients, six (11%) had evidence of simultaneous primary tumour. In five of these six patients, simultaneous primary tumours (two gastric cancer; one colon cancer; one pancreatic cancer; one thyroid cancer) were found by FDG PET. One more patient was found to have prostate cancer on the basis of blood test but this was not detected by FDG PET. In none of the remaining 47 patients, were additional simultaneous primary tumours found by FDG PET or any of the other routine examinations or during follow-up.

Conclusions: The results of this study show a high rate of simultaneous primary tumour in patients with primary head and neck cancer. FDG PET appears to be a promising imaging modality for the detection of simultaneous tumours in head and neck cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Whole-Body Counting / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18