Use of positron emission tomography with fluorodeoxyglucose in patients with extracranial head and neck cancers

Cancer. 1994 Jun 15;73(12):3047-58. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19940615)73:12<3047::aid-cncr2820731225>;2-#.


Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of positron emission tomography- (PET) 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) imaging in extracranial head and neck cancers.

Methods: Sixty patients with biopsy-proven cancers were studied using PET-FDG. Thirty-four patients were studied before therapy (staging), of which 15 patients received primary radiotherapy and serial PET-FDG imaging (monitoring). Seven patients with advanced disease had laser excision (monitoring), and 19 patients were evaluated for recurrent disease (recurrence).

Results: Four patients had unknown primary lesions. PET-FDG imaging located the primary tumor in two of four patients, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in none of four. In the remaining patients (staging), PET-FDG imaging detected the primary tumor in 29 of 30 patients, and MRI in 23 of 30. In the staging group, PET-FDG imaging identified the presence or absence of lymph node involvement in 32 of 34 patients, and MRI in 31 of 34. PET-FDG imaging was helpful in evaluating tumor response to radiation therapy or laser excision. Ten patients evaluated for recurrent disease had biopsy-confirmed recurrences, and 7 had no recurrence. PET-FDG imaging results were positive for primary tumor recurrence in 9 of 10 patients, and MRI results were positive in 6 of 10. MRI results were negative for lymph node disease in one of these patients with recurrent primary tumor where PET-FDG imaging and biopsy demonstrated nodal involvement. PET-FDG results were negative for recurrent disease in seven of seven patients, and MRI results were negative for recurrent disease in in four of seven.

Conclusion: In this series, the authors found that PET-FDG is a useful diagnostic modality for evaluating the patient with an unknown primary, monitoring response to therapy, and in detecting recurrent tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deoxyglucose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Deoxyglucose