A study looking at PET-CT scans for patients having treatment for head and neck cancer

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Laryngeal cancer
Mouth (oral) cancer
Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer
Nasopharyngeal cancer
Pharyngeal cancer




Phase 1/2

This study used a new type of scan which is a combination of a PET scan and a CT scan in one machine. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Doctors use tests, such as X-rays and scans Open a glossary item, before and after treatment to see if the cancer has shrunk or continued to grow.

But these changes can sometimes be difficult to see. Doctors can’t always tell if a lump is cancerous, or whether it is scar tissue left behind after treatment, for example. PET scans show up cancer cells. CT scans give a clear picture of the inside of the body. If they do a CT scan at the same time as a PET scan this could help give them more exact results.

In this study, doctors used PET-CT scans regularly throughout treatment. They hoped that this would show at an early stage if radiotherapy and chemotherapy were working.

The aim of this study was to see if the PET-CT scan helped doctors to see if cancer treatment was working.

Summary of results

The study team found they could use PET-CT scans to find out if cancer was responding to treatment.

This study recruited 12 people who were having radiotherapy to treat head and neck cancer. Everyone had a PET-CT scan

  • 3 days before starting radiotherapy
  • Twice during radiotherapy
  • At the end of their radiotherapy

The team were able to look at the scans of 8 people out of the 12 who took part. When the study team compared the 4 individual scans of each person, they found that everyone’s cancer had got smaller at each scan.   

The study team concluded they could use PET-CT scans to work out how well radiotherapy was working for people with head and neck cancer.  

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Michele Saunders

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 831

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

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