To assess the role of combined positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT) in predicting early treatment response at the primary site and in the neck after chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
Retrospective analysis with a median follow-up of 24 months.
Academic, tertiary referral center.
Patients and Interventions
Thirty-one patients who were treated with concomitant intra-arterial CRT underwent PET-CT 6 to 8 weeks after the completion of treatment. Patients with findings on the physical examination, CT, or PET-CT indicative of persistent disease underwent appropriate surgical intervention for pathological assessment. Patients with a complete clinical response were observed with routine follow-up physical examination for disease recurrence. No evidence of disease at least 6 months after the completion of PET-CT was considered confirmation of complete clinical response.
Main Outcome Measures
Presence or absence of residual or recurrent disease during the follow-up period was used to calculate the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of PET-CT for the primary site and the neck.
Assessment of tumor response at the primary site with PET-CT had a sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 83%, 54%, 31%, and 92%, respectively. In patients with pretreatment N1 to N3 disease, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of posttreatment PET-CT were 75%, more than 94%, more than 75%, and 94%, respectively, and the specificity and negative predictive value for patients with pretreatment N0 disease in the neck were 92% and more than 92%, respectively.
Negative PET-CT findings accurately determine early disease response at the primary site and in the neck. False-positive findings are common at the primary site. Patients with a negative PET-CT finding after the completion of intra-arterial CRT do not require surgical intervention.