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Benefit of PET in patients with head and neck tumors cannot be assessed
Date:4/29/2011

The benefit and harm of positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with head and neck tumours, applied alone or in combination with computed tomography (CT), cannot currently be reliably assessed. This is the result of a final report published by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). The Institute was commissioned by the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) to assess the advantages and disadvantages of this diagnostic method. However, as the authors of the report explain, suitable studies for this purpose are lacking.

Tobacco and alcohol are important risk factors

Various types of cancer are summarized under the term "head and neck tumours". Among others, these are malignant tumours of the oral cavity (lips, tongue etc.), the pharynx, the larynx, the nose and paranasal sinuses, as well as the outer neck. In Germany about 20,000 people per year develop a malignant head and neck tumour. Men are affected about three times more often than women. In German men, cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx is the seventh most common type of cancer. The consumption of tobacco and alcohol are important risk factors. Prospects of cure vary, depending on the localization of the cancer. For example, the 5-year survival rate in patients with lip tumours is over 90%, whereas in those with pharyngeal tumours the rate is only 30-40%.

PET makes increased metabolic activity visible

By using PET, doctors hope to improve the diagnosis of tumours and the determination of exact tumour expansion. Treatment (e.g. of metastases) could then be targeted more accurately than after the application of other diagnostic techniques. Conventional imaging methods such as computed tomography (CT) show the structure and location of healthy and abnormal tissue. Beyond this, PET can measure metabolic activity in the tissue. The PET image indicates areas of increased metabolic activity in the body by means of a weak radioact
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Contact: IQWiG
info@iqwig.de
49-022-135-6850
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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