The role of positron emission tomography (PET) scanning in determining the extent of disease in patients with breast cancer has not been defined. We investigated the utility of 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-PET scanning compared with conventional imaging with computed tomographic scanning and bone scanning in determining the extent of disease in patients with high-risk, operable breast cancer.Methods
This was a prospective study of patients who presented to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for operative treatment of breast cancer. Eighty eligible patients were enrolled and underwent computed tomographic chest, abdomen, pelvis, and bone scans, followed by FDG-PET. Changes in treatment based on scan findings were recorded by the operating surgeons. Imaging findings were verified by biopsy or long-term follow-up.Results
Eight (10%) of 80 patients were found to have metastatic disease that was seen on both conventional imaging and PET. Four additional patients (5%) had additional foci of disease on PET that affected treatment decisions. No patient had findings on conventional imaging alone. Conventional imaging studies resulted in a higher number of findings that generated additional tests and biopsies that ultimately had negative results (17% vs. 5% for PET). There was a statistically significant difference in specificity for PET compared with conventional imaging (P = .01).Conclusions
Conventional imaging and PET were equally sensitive in detecting metastatic disease in patients with high-risk, operable breast cancer, but PET generated fewer false-positive results. FDG-PET scanning should be further studied in this setting and considered in the preoperative evaluation of selected patients with breast cancer.