18F-fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography in the Assessment of Occult Primary Head and Neck Cancers : An Audit and Review of Published Studies
Aims: To assess the value of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in patients with squamous cell and undifferentiated cancer neck nodes and no primary site on conventional assessment. Materials and methods: Seventy-eight patients with neck nodal metastases from an unknown primary cancer were studied. PET/CT was carried out in all patients, 1 h after FDG injection. Results: Uptake suspicious of an occult primary cancer was found in 46/78 (59.0%) patients. Subsequent investigations confirmed a primary site in the base of the tongue in 14, pharyngeal palatine tonsil in 14, post cricoid in one, lung in one. PET/CT diagnosed primary cancers in 30/78 patients (38.5%); sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value: 30/30 (100.0%), 32/48 (66.7%), 30/46 (65.2%), 32/32 (100.0%), respectively. PET/CT detected additional disease in four patients: contralateral nodal disease in two, mediastinal nodal disease in one and liver metastases in one. Conclusions: FDG PET/CT is of value in the assessment of patients with occult head and neck primary cancers. However, false-positive results remain a limitation of the investigation.