Positron Emission Tomography in Head and Neck Cancer

  • Ilona M. Schmalfuss
Part of the Medical Radiology book series (MEDRAD)


PET imaging complements CT and MRI in the staging process of head and neck malignancies. It has been shown to be helpful in detection of nodal metastasis, distant metastasis and unknown primary tumors leading to a change in TNM classification in up to 20% of patients. Tumor stage and CT tumor volumes have been well-established variables in the stratification process of patients into favorable and unfavorable treatment groups. PET imaging with its ability to capture biological activity and areas of hypoxia within tumors adds other important variables to consider, with high FDG activities and hypoxia representing unfavorable risk factors. Utilization of FDG activity- or hypoxia-tumor maps facilitates more individualized treatment planning, with the possibility to deliver higher radiation doses to unfavorable tumor areas. Posttreatment PET imaging can help to decide whether lymph node dissection is needed and facilitates the detection of persistent or recurrent tumors, in particular when significant alterations of the soft tissues planes are present. The strengths, weaknesses and limitations of PET imaging prior, during and after treatment will be discussed in this chapter.


Positron Emission Tomography Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Intensity Modulate Radiation Therapy Pleomorphic Adenoma Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyMalcolm Randall VA Medical Center, University of Florida College of MedicineGainesvilleUSA

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