Radiation Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer

Part of the series Medical Radiology pp 13-26

Imaging Studies in Head and Neck Cancer

  • William P. ShumanAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University Hospital, University of Washington
  • , Albert A. MossAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University Hospital, University of Washington

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Modern radiation therapy of head and neck cancer depends heavily on accurately detecting all malignant tissue present be it primary tumor, metastatic tumor, or associated adenopathy. Precise three dimensional tumor localization is critical for therapy planning so that all disease tissue is treated to tumorocidal doses while sparing as much normal adjacent tissue as possible. Fortunately, modern high technology has provided serveral ways to detect and spatially localize tumor; unfortunately high technology is expensive to apply. In this era of increasing scrutiny by governmental agencies of the cost of health care, merely ordering all conceivable imaging tests on all patients is effective but financially unacceptable. Cost effective diagnosis requires a rational sequencing of diagnostic tests based on knowledge of individual disease patterns and the latest information about the efficacy of various imaging modalities.