Background. We studied the potential prognostic significance of pretreatment 18-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) standardized uptake value (SUV) in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Methods. A retrospective review of the pretreatment FDGPET scans of 60 patients with SCCHN was performed. All patients received radiotherapy and 37 also received concurrent chemotherapy. SUV was calculated by 2 nuclear-medicine physicians who were blinded to the clinical data. Disease-free survival (DFS) was analyzed with respect to SUV (and other potential prognostic factors). Results. The median SUV was 7.2 (range, 1-24.7); 34 patients (57%) had SUV < 9.0 compared with 26 patients (43%) with an SUV ≥ 9.0. The group with low SUV had significantly better 2-year DFS compared with the high SUV group (72% vs 37%), p = .007. On multivariate analysis, stage and age were also associated with DFS, but SUV remained an independent predictor of DFS (hazard ratio: 1.08; p = .016). Conclusion. SUV was significantly associated with outcome after modern definitive therapy of SCCHN.
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