Role of (18)F-FDG PET-CT in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Paola Castaldi, Lucia Leccisotti, Francesco Bussu, Francesco Micciche', Vittoria Rufini

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54 Citations (Scopus)


The role of PET-CT imaging in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma during pre-treatment staging, radiotherapy planning, treatment response assessment and post-therapy follow-up is reviewed with focus on current evidence, controversial issues and future clinical applications. In staging, the role of (18)F-FDG PET-CT is well recognized for detecting cervical nodal involvement as well as for exclusion of distant metastases and synchronous primary tumours. In the evaluation of treatment response, the high negative predictive value of (18)F-FDG PET-CT performed at least 8 weeks from the end of radio-chemotherapy allows prevention of unnecessary diagnostic invasive procedures and neck dissection in many patients, with a significant impact on clinical outcome. On the other hand, in this setting, the low positive predictive value due to possible post-radiation inflammation findings requires special care before making a clinical decision. Controversial data are currently available on the role of PET imaging during the course of radio-chemotherapy. The prognostic role of (18)F-FDG PET-CT imaging in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is recently emerging, in addition to the utility of this technique in evaluation of the tumour volume for planning radiation therapy. Additionally, new PET radiopharmaceuticals could provide considerable information on specific tumour characteristics, thus overcoming the limitations of (18)F-FDG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalActa Otorhinolaryngologica Italica
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • 18F-FDG
  • Carcinoma
  • Head and neck tumours
  • PET-CT
  • Squamous cell


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