BackgroundIntratumoral heterogeneity has an enormous effect on patient treatment and outcome. The purpose of the current study was to establish and validate a nomogram with intratumoral heterogeneity derived from 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for prognosis of 5-Year progression-free survival (PFS) of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).MethodsA total of 171 NPC patients who underwent pretreatment 18F-FDG PET/CT were retrospectively enrolled. Data was randomly divided into training cohort (n = 101) and validation cohort (n = 70). The clinicopathologic parameters and the following PET parameters were analyzed: maximum and mean standardized uptake value (SUVmax, SUVmean), metabolic tumor volume (MTV), total lesion glycolysis (TLG), and heterogeneity index (HI, SUVmax/SUVmean) for primary tumor and maximal neck lymph node. Cox analyses were performed on PFS in the training cohort. A prognostic nomogram based on this model was developed and validated.ResultsFor the primary tumor, MTV-2.5, TLG-2.5, MTV-70%, and TLG-70% were significantly correlated with PFS. For the maximal neck lymph node, short diameter and HI were significantly correlated with PFS. Among the clinicopathologic parameters, M stage was a significant prognostic factor for recurrence. In multivariate analysis, M stage (P = 0.006), TLG-T-70% (P = 0.002), and HI-N (P = 0.018) were independent predictors. Based on this prognostic model, a nomogram was generated. The C-index of this model was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.63–0.85). For the cross validation, the C-index for the model was 0.73 (95% CI: 0.62–0.83) with the validation cohort. Patients with a risk score of ≥111 had poorer survival outcomes than those with a risk score of 0–76 and 77–110.ConclusionsIntratumoral heterogeneity derived from 18F-FDG PET/CT could predict long-term outcome in patients with primary NPC. A combination of PET parameters and the TNM stage enables better stratification of patients into subgroups with different PFS rates.