PET/CT Scans Valuable for Follow-ups in Cancer patients

A study presented at the Multidisciplinary Head, Neck Cancer Symposium, sponsored by AHNS, ASCO, ASTRO and SNM says that the use of positron emission (PET/CT) tomography /computed tomography scans in head and neck in cancer patient’s follow-up can detect local recurrences before they become clinically apparent. These PET/CT scans might also improve the outcome of the subsequent salvage therapy. Whenever recurrence is suspected in a patient, most head and neck cancer follow-up studies use (FDG-PET) Fluorodeoxyglucose-PET scans and PET scan is a relatively new test. The use of this as a routine follow up for head and neck cancer patients is highly controversial.

In order to determine the value and effectiveness of the PET scans and to know the level of harm that this test can cause to the cancer patients, only a handful of studies have been conducted so far. PET scans are supposed to be done in fixed intervals on the patients in order to determine whether the cancer has re-occurred or not. The researchers who took part in this study regarding the PET scan reviewed two hundred and thirty four head and neck cancer patients who had been treated with chaemoradiation between 2006 and 2010. These patients also had a post therapy PET/CT scan.
PET/CT scans

Fifteen patients were identified with abnormalities using the PET/CT scan. The abnormalities required further evaluation of the patients. The biopsies of the patients showed that in eight of the 15 cases, there was a malignant growth while on the other hand; the other seven cases were only false positive results. In the follow-ups that followed subsequently, those patients who did not show any kind of negative results in the previous PET scans, did not show any signs of abnormalities or any sign of the disease whatsoever.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Yasir Rudha, MD, MBChB, is a researcher at St. John Hospital/Van elslander Cancer Centre in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan. Dr. Yasir Rudha said, “With malignancies found in 53 per cent of abnormal scans in this study, our research proves that PET/CT scans are valuable as routine follow-up and as a surveillance method for head and neck cancer patients.” He further added, “However, since the rate of false positives was 46 per cent, caution should be shown when ordering biopsies after abnormal scans to prevent excessive unnecessary biopsies.” This shows that head and neck cancer recurrences are detected earlier by routine follow-up scans.

PET/CT Scans Valuable for Follow-ups in Cancer patients
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