Patients who have undergone salvage re-irradiation for head or neck cancer may find a PET/CT scan ordered after treatment. This simple testing procedure can provide doctors a great deal of insights into the success of treatments while delivering prognostic value, as well.
To determine just how effective the PET/CT scan was in regard to determining prognosis, a recent study was conducted. The study drew on data from 54 patients with head or neck cancers. Of those patients, 30 percent had negative post-treatment scans and 70 percent had positive scans. At the median follow-up of 55 months, 44 patients had died. Among those who had negative scans, the overall survival rate was 38.7 months. This compared to 9.4 months for those with positive scans.
While the PET/CT scan as a follow up may not offer a reliable look at overall outcome, researchers say the test does have a great deal of value. The positive scans were found to have a very high accuracy rate in ruling out long-term survival. While that news is a double-edged sword of sorts, it does enable doctors to better inform patients and their loved ones of what to expect; making the findings quite valuable.
PET/CT scans are highly beneficial diagnostic tools that help doctors see inside the body without the need for surgery. This combination test is commonly used in the overall treatment of a variety of cancers. While the outcomes in regard to head and neck cancers showed a high mortality rate even after salvage radiation, the insights provided may help patients better plan for the future.
People diagnosed with head and neck cancers are urged to discuss all testing and treatment options with their healthcare providers. The types of treatment and the kinds of tests ordered may vary greatly based on such factors as tumor location, stage and aggressiveness. A doctor familiar with a person’s unique case will be best positioned to offer treatment advice and information for an individual.