This retrospective database study of 44,862 patients who had a history of a primary head and neck malignancy was conducted to identify any clinical variables that may predict the occurrence of a second primary head and neck malignancy. During a mean follow-up of 42.2 months, a second head and neck primary developed in 941 of these patients (2.1%). Statistical analyses revealed that a higher incidence of a second primary was associated with increased age and a location of the first primary in the larynx/hypopharynx, the oropharynx, a major salivary gland, or the nasopharynx. A lower incidence was associated with the presence of cervical nodal disease or treatment of the first primary with radiation therapy. Factors that had no effect on the risk of a second primary included sex, the size of the first primary tumor, a first-primary site in the oral cavity, and treatment of the first primary with cancer-directed surgery. The risk of a second primary head and neck cancer remained constant for at least 10 years.
We performed a retrospective study of 47 patients to ascertain the ability of combined positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) to localize recurrent head and neck cancer. When clinically warranted, biopsies were performed in an attempt to obtain pathologic confirmation of the PET/CT findings. Of the 47 patients, 33 exhibited PET/CT findings consistent with recurrent cancer. Of the 33 patients, 25 underwent either biopsy or surgical excision of disease in an attempt to obtain a pathologic confirmation. Biopsy analysis confirmed the PET/CT findings in 22 of these patients; in the remaining 3 patients, pathologic findings were inconsistent with the PET/CT diagnosis. Based on the subset of 25 patients who underwent pathologic testing, the sensitivity of combined PET/CT was 95% and the specificity was 60%. We conclude that combined PET/CT imaging is a valuable tool for localizing tumor recurrence in patients with head and neck cancer.