Clinical outcomes of patients receiving integrated PET/CT-guided radiotherapy for head and neck carcinoma

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Mar 1;70(3):678-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2007.10.044.


Purpose: We previously reported the advantages of (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (PET) fused with CT for radiotherapy planning over CT alone in head and neck carcinoma (HNC). The purpose of this study was to evaluate clinical outcomes and the predictive value of PET for patients receiving PET/CT-guided definitive radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy.

Methods and materials: From December 2002 to August 2006, 42 patients received PET/CT imaging as part of staging and radiotherapy planning. Clinical outcomes including locoregional recurrence, distant metastasis, death, and treatment-related toxicities were collected retrospectively and analyzed for disease-free and overall survival and cumulative incidence of recurrence.

Results: Median follow-up from initiation of treatment was 32 months. Overall survival and disease-free survival were 82.8% and 71.0%, respectively, at 2 years, and 74.1% and 66.9% at 3 years. Of the 42 patients, seven recurrences were identified (three LR, one DM, three both LR and DM). Mean time to recurrence was 9.4 months. Cumulative risk of recurrence was 18.7%. The maximum standard uptake volume (SUV) of primary tumor, adenopathy, or both on PET did not correlate with recurrence, with mean values of 12.0 for treatment failures vs. 11.7 for all patients. Toxicities identified in those patients receiving intensity modulated radiation therapy were also evaluated.

Conclusions: A high level of disease control combined with favorable toxicity profiles was achieved in a cohort of HNC patients receiving PET/CT fusion guided radiotherapy plus/minus chemotherapy. Maximum SUV of primary tumor and/or adenopathy was not predictive of risk of disease recurrence.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18