Moreover, "PET/CT scans allow for earlier detection of recurrences after treatment for head and neck cancer," lead investigator Dr. Johnny Kao told Reuters Health.
Dr. Kao and colleagues at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine analyzed 240 PET/CT scans that had been obtained from 80 patients at four- to six-month intervals, starting two to four months after completion of radiotherapy.
After a median follow-up of 21 months, PET/CT had a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 82% for detection of locoregional recurrence. Corresponding values for distant metastases or second primary tumors were 93% and 96%.
In patients with negative PET/CT findings within six months of radiotherapy, the two-year progression-free survival rate was 90% and the two-year overall survival rate was 100%. In patients with positive findings, however, rates of progression-free and overall survival were 30% and 32%, respectively.
The authors acknowledge that the PET/CT had a positive predictive value of only 42% for loco/regional recurrence.
"Although post-therapy follow-up using PET/CT is reportedly associated with a high false-positive rate in the irradiated head and neck, PET/CT appears to be a highly sensitive technique for the detection of recurrent disease," the authors conclude.
Moreover, Dr. Kao added, "negative PET/CT scans within six months of treatment are highly predictive of long-term freedom from recurrence."
Last Updated: 2009-10-13 18:00:11 -0400 (Reuters Health)
PET/CT reveals occult metastasis of head and neck cancer, September 7, 2007
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