18F-FDG PET/CT metabolic tumor volume and total lesion glycolysis predict outcome in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma

Remy Lim, Anne Eaton, Nancy Y. Lee, Jeremy Setton, Nisha Ohri, Shyam Rao, Richard Wong, Matthew Fury, Heiko Schöder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Treatment of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma with chemoradiotherapy can now accomplish excellent locoregional disease control, but patient overall survival (OS) remains limited by development of distant metastases (DM). We investigated the prognostic value of staging 18F-FDG PET/CT, beyond clinical risk factors, for predicting DM and OS in 176 patients after definitive chemoradiotherapy. Methods: The PET parameters maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax), metabolic tumor volume (MTV), and total lesion glycolysis (TLG) were recorded. Univariate Cox regression was used to examine the prognostic value of these variables and clinical prognosticators for local treatment failure (LTF), OS, and DM. Multivariate analysis examined the effect of SUVmax, TLG, and MTV in the presence of other covariates. Kaplan-Meier curves were used to evaluate prognostic values of PET/CT parameters. Results: Primary tumors were distributed across all stages. Most patients underwent chemoradiotherapy only, and 11 also underwent tonsillectomy. On univariate analysis, primary tumor MTV was predictive of LTF (P = 0.005, hazard ratio [HR] = 2.4 for a doubling of MTV), DM and OS ( P < 0.001 for both, HR = 1.9 and 1.8, respectively). The primary tumor TLG was associated with DM and OS ( P < 0.001, HR = 1.6 and 1.7, respectively, for a doubling of TLG). The primary tumor SUVmax was associated with death (P = 0.029, HR = 1.1 for a 1-unit increase in standardized uptake value) but had no relationship with LTF or DM. In multivariate analysis, TLG and MTV remained associated with death after correcting for T stage (P = 0.0125 and 0.0324, respectively) whereas no relationship was seen between standardized uptake value and death after adjusting for T stage (P = 0.158). Conclusion: Parameters capturing the volume of 18F-FDG-positive disease (MTV or TLG) provide important prognostic information in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma treated with chemoradiotherapy and should be considered for risk stratification in this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1506-1513
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Metabolic tumor volume
  • Oropharynx cancer
  • Prognosis


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