Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the ability of positron emission tomography with contrast-enhanced computed tomography to correctly stage head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, in comparison with pathological staging. Methods: Positron emission tomography computed tomography was used to determine the tumour-node-metastasis classification and overall cancer stage in 85 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients who underwent pre-operative imaging using this modality and primary surgery between July 2010 and January 2013. Staging by positron emission tomography computed tomography was retrospectively compared with staging using pathological specimens. Agreement between imaging stage and pathological stage was examined by univariate and multivariate analysis both overall and for each primary tumour site. Results: This imaging modality was 87.5 per cent sensitive and 44.8 per cent specific in identifying regional cervical metastases, and had false positive and false negative rates of 18.8 per cent and 8.2 per cent, respectively. The positive predictive and negative predictive values were 75.4 per cent and 65.0 per cent, respectively. Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed a significant agreement between positron emission tomography computed tomography and pathological node classification in older patients and for the oral cavity primary tumour site. There was significant agreement between both methods in the overall classification only for tumours classified as T3 or greater. Conclusion: Positron emission tomography computed tomography should be used with caution for the pre-operative staging of head and neck cancers because of its high false positive and false negative rates.
- Head and Neck Neoplasms
- Key words Positron-Emission Tomography
- Neoplasm Staging
- X-Ray Computed
ASJC Scopus subject areas