Utility of CT surveillance for primary site recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Head Neck. 2011 Nov;33(11):1547-50. doi: 10.1002/hed.21636. Epub 2010 Dec 6.


Background: The literature directly comparing the utility of clinical examination (CE) to that of CT in detecting recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) for primary site recurrences is lacking.

Methods: Patients who received both CT scans and CEs after primary treatment for SCC of the upper aerodigestive tract (oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx) were identified. Individual CT scans and CEs were evaluated for their ability to detect recurrence status.

Results: One hundred thirty-one patients underwent a total of 886 CEs and 346 CT scans during the follow-up period. The sensitivity for CE and CT was 84.0% and 66.7%, respectively; for specificity, 98.7% and 90.7%, respectively; for positive predictive value, 65.6% and 31.8%, respectively; and for negative predictive value the values were 99.5% and 97.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: Due to the low sensitivity and positive predictive value of CT scans compared to physical examination in evaluating primary site tumor recurrences, the utility of CT for surveillance may be limited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Dissection / methods
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*