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Head and neck cancers

Head and neck tumors originate from organs situated between the collar-bone and the basis of the skull, so these can be tumors of skin, nasal cavity, nasal sinuses, salivary glands, cheeks, oral cavity and tissues of pharynx and larynx.
Organs of the head and neck area are composed by lots of different tissue types and from all of them can a malignant tumor arise. In most cases it is squamous cell carcinoma which mainly gives metastases to neighboring lymph nodes of the lymphatic system. The biggest group is cancers of the oral cavity.


Significance of PET-CT in case of head and neck cancers

  • Detection of the tumor in cases when other methods cannot be used because of the patient’s state. In cases when other imaging techniques have failed to produce results or when results were not unequivocal. PET-CT can very precisely detect the tumor itself, the local and so-called distant metastases and a possible secondary tumor that may appear even simultaneously in the body.
  • In cases when the risk of recurrence of the tumor is high, or the chance of a cancer metastasis is high.
  • In cases when a metastatic lymph node is discovered on the neck and the initiating tumor cannot be found with other examinations.
  • After termination of treatment for detection or exclusion of viable tumor in the remaining tissue. But this is only effective if we perform the examination after the adequate waiting period. Early examination may provide a false negative result.
  • Recurrence of the tumor –if it does not respond well to the therapy- can be detected very early.
  • In cases when cancer-free state can be achieved after finishing the treatment, PET-CT can be included in the group of further control examinations of the patient as it can detect even a small, recurrent tumor or metastasis in the body.
  • In most head and neck cancers radiation therapy is performed and this way PET-CT can more precisely show the borders of the tumor. Due to this fact a smaller area has to be radiated thus less intact tissues are damaged, and the primary tumor gets much higher radiation dose which destroys it with a better chance.