Head and Neck Cancers

Both PET and MRI play a central role in the staging and management of patients with head and neck cancers.  MRI provides excellent anatomic depiction of the complex soft tissues of the neck allowing for the detection and precise localization of primary tumors, residual disease and nodal metastases.  At UCSF this information is also used for precise planning for radiation delivery with IMRT, a collaborative process between our radiologists and radiation oncologists. PET provides information on tissues that are hypermetabolic.  Although PET does not have the resolution of MRI, it provides specificity allowing one to distinguish malignant and benign lesions.  PET/MRI enables these two modalities to be acquired at the same time, with accurate fusion of the two data sets, allowing more precise tumor mapping.