18F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography-scan (PET/CT) is used increasingly for detection of cancer. Precise diagnostic assessment of tumour extension in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is of critical importance for ensuring that patients receive proper treatment. Preliminary studies have shown divergent results of PET/CT in diagnosis and staging of HNSCC. The aims of this study were (1) to systematically review and meta-analyse published data about the diagnostic accuracy of PET/CT for diagnosing patients with HNSCC and (2) to compare the diagnostic accuracy of PET/CT with that of standard conventional imaging (SCI). METHODS: A systematic literature search in the PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases on publications of PET/CT diagnostics of HNSCC from January 2005 to July 2013 was carried out. All retrieved studies were reviewed and qualitatively analysed. Along with the calculated pooled sensitivity and specificity of PET/CT and SCI, bubble- and summary receiver operating characteristics (SROC) plots were created. FINDINGS: Two meta-analyses of diagnostic accuracy were conducted. The first, on PET/CT, included 987 patients distributed across nine studies. The second, on SCI, included 517 patients participating in a total of six studies among those comparing PET/CT to SCI. The meta-analyses showed a pooled sensitivity of 89.3% (95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 83.4-93.2%) and specificity of 89.5% (95% CI: 82.9-93.7%) for PET/CT and correspondingly, a pooled sensitivity and specificity of 71.6% (95% CI: 44.3-88.9%) and 78.0% (95%CI: 30.2-96.7%) for SCI. A graphical comparison to SCI showed a clear difference in favour of PET/CT. INTERPRETATION: PET/CT is highly accurate in diagnosing patients suffering from HNSCC.
European Journal of Cancer (oxford, England : 1990), 2014, Vol 50, Issue 13, p. 2271-2279