PET scan is a relatively new test and its use as a routine follow up for head and neck cancer patients is controversial. Most head and neck cancer follow-up studies use Fluorodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scans when recurrence is suspected, but few studies have been conducted to determine the value of PET scans in fixed intervals post-treatment.
Yasir Rudha, MD, MBChB
Researchers in this study reviewed 234 head and neck cancer cases treated with chemoradiation between 2006 and 2010 that also had a post-therapy PET/CT scan. The scans identified 15 patients with abnormalities requiring further evaluation, and biopsies showed malignancies in eight of the 15 cases. The other seven cases were false positives.
All of the patients who had negative PET/CT scans remained disease free in subsequent follow-ups.
“With malignancies found in 53 percent of abnormal scans in this study, our research proves that PET/CT scans are valuable as routine follow-up and as a surveillance method for head and neck cancer patients,” Yasir Rudha, MD, MBChB, lead author of the study and a researcher at St. John Hospital/Van elslander Cancer Center in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., said. “However, since the rate of false positives was 46 percent, caution should be shown when ordering biopsies after abnormal scans to prevent excessive unnecessary biopsies.”
The abstract, “The value of PET scan in the routine follow up of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck,” will be presented as a poster viewing. To speak with one of the study authors, contact Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli on January 26-27, 2012, in the press room at the Arizona Biltmore at 602-912-7854 or 703-839-7336.
About the American Head and Neck Society
The American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) is the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology. The purpose of the AHNS is to promote and advance the knowledge of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neoplasms and other diseases of the head and neck; to promote and advance research in diseases of the head and neck; and to promote and advance the highest professional and ethical standards.
About the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
About the American Society for Radiation Oncology
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
About SNM—Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible. SNM members specialize in molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated.