Recurrent Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Presenting as a Positron Emission Tomography False-negative Scan

Chien Shih, Jenq Yuh Ko, Cheng Ping Wang, Lai Lei Ting, Jong Kai Hsiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Positron emission tomography (PET) is valuable for detecting locoregional recurrences of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) with a high sensitivity and fair specificity. A negative PET result is generally thought to confidently exclude the presence of a tumor. However, a false-negative PET scan is more dangerous than false-positive results because an undiscovered recurrent tumor may eventually lead to the patient's death without proper treatment. In this report, we describe a false-negative PET scan in a NPC patient with a recurrent tumor in the left cavernous sinus, presenting as a new onset of left 6th cranial nerve palsy 1 year after irradiation. The first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PET scan failed to disclose any abnormalities. The second MRI performed 3 months after the first scans demonstrated a new abnormal lesion in the left cavernous sinus, which had resolved in the following MRI after re-irradiation. Therefore, clinical observation with suggestive symptoms is still important, even with negative imaging results. Close follow-up with a series of imaging studies must be performed when indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-330
Number of pages4
JournalTzu Chi Medical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cavernous sinus
  • Diplopia
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Positron emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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