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Keywords:

  • Head and neck neoplasms;
  • whole body positron emission tomography;
  • distant malignancies;
  • meta-analysis

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

We aimed to compare the accuracy of whole body positron emission tomography (PET)/PET-computed tomography (CT) and conventional anatomic imaging for detecting distant malignancies in patients with head and neck cancer.

Study Design:

Meta-Analysis.

Methods:

We performed a meta-analysis of all available studies. We compared the performance of whole body PET/PET-CT with that of conventional anatomic imaging by analyzing studies that had also used conventional anatomic imaging on the same patients.

Results:

Across eight studies (1,147 patients), sensitivity and specificity of PET/PET-CT were 0.83 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76–0.88) and 0.96 (95% CI, 0.94–0.97), respectively, and for conventional anatomic imaging were 0.44 (95% CI, 0.29–0.61) and 0.96 (95% CI, 0.88–0.98), respectively. Subgroup analysis showed that PET/PET-CT had higher sensitivity than conventional anatomic imaging for nasopharyngeal cancer (0.82 vs. 0.30) and non-nasopharyngeal head and neck cancer (0.85 vs. 0.62).

Conclusions:

Compared with conventional anatomic imaging, whole body PET/PET-CT has excellent diagnostic performance for detecting distant malignancies in patients with head and neck cancer.