Multicenter trial of [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography staging of head and neck cancer and negative predictive value and surgical impact in the n0 neck: Results from acrin 6685

Val Lowe, Fenghai Duan, Rathan M. Subramaniam, Jo Rean D. Sicks, Justin Romanoff, Twyla Bartel, Q. Jian, Brian Nussenbaum, Jeremy Richmon, Charles D. Arnold, David Cognetti, Brendan C. Stack

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9 Scopus citations


PURPOSE The objective of this study was to determine the negative predictive value (NPV) of positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) for the clinically N0 neck on the basis of neck dissection. METHODS Participants with newly diagnosed, first-time, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and at least one clinically N0 neck side for which dissection was planned were included. A total of 287 participants were prospectively enrolled from 23 American College of Radiology Imaging Network-qualified institutions. PET/ CT was compared with findings at neck dissection. RESULTS PET/CT scans and pathology findings were available for 270 N0 neck sides from 212 participants. For visual assessment, the NPV specific to the clinical-N0 sides was 0.868 (95% CI, 0.803 to 0.925). For dichotomized maximum standardized uptake value, the NPVs specific to the nodal basins were 0.940 (95% CI, 0.928 to 0.952) and 0.937 (95% CI, 0.925 to 0.949) at prespecified cutoffs of 2.5 and 3.5, respectively. The optimal cutoff maximum standardized uptake value was determined to be 1.8, with an NPV of 0.942 (95% CI, 0.930 to 0.953). The PET/CT-informed surgical treatment plan was changed in 51 of 237 participants (22%) compared with the PET/CT-blinded surgical plan. In 34 participants (14%), this led to planned dissection of additional nodal levels. In 12 participants (5%), this led to fewer planned dissected nodal levels. Negative PET/ CT scans in N0 necks was true negative in 87% and false negative in 13%. CONCLUSION [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT has high NPV for the N0 neck in T2 to T4 HNSCC. The surgical treatment plans on the basis of PET/CT findings may be changed in approximately 22% of this group. These findings suggest that [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT may assist the clinician in deciding on the best therapy for the clinically N0 neck in HNSCC. Well-designed clinical trials should be performed to test the outcome of omitting neck dissection by using PET/CT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1704-1712
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Jul 10 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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