Pleural metastasis in head and neck cancer: Imaging findings and clinical impact

Bing Wang, Sonia Betancourt Cuellar, Lawrence E. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective The aim of this study was to present the imaging findings of pleural metastases from head and neck cancer and correlate them with prognosis for overall survival, which to our knowledge have not received much attention in radiology literature. Methods We reviewed 23 cases of head and neck cancer with pleural metastases that were seen on head and neck imaging. Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography/CT imaging findings were reviewed. The location and cell type of the primary cancer were studied. The effect of the pleural metastases on patient survival was analyzed. Results Twelve (57%) of the 21 cases of pleural metastasis were missed initially on the neck CT but were visible in retrospect. Nine of 11 patients whom we had followed up for 1.5 years or longer have died, often within a few of months of presenting with pleural metastases. Conclusions The presence of pleural metastasis in head and neck cancer is an extremely poor prognostic indicator for survival. They are potentially missed on the neck CT. Given its significant clinical impact, head and neck radiologists should specifically look for pleural metastasis when reviewing imaging studies of patients with head and neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-253
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Tomography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • head and neck
  • pleural metastases
  • survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Pleural metastasis in head and neck cancer: Imaging findings and clinical impact'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this