18F-FDG PET and 99mTc-sestamibi scintimammography for monitoring breast cancer response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy: a comparative study

Eur J Nucl Med. 2001 Jun;28(6):711-20. doi: 10.1007/s002590100539.


Presurgical neoadjuvant chemotherapy has shown promise in the treatment of locally advanced breast carcinoma (LABC). Response assessment by clinical examination and mammography is difficult. This study evaluated and compared fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET) and technetium-99m sestamibi scintimammography (SMM) as potential methods for the early assessment of tumour response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with LABC. Seven patients underwent PET and SMM [planar and single-photon emission tomography (SPET)] before beginning chemotherapy, after the first and second cycles of chemotherapy and after completing chemotherapy prior to surgery. PET and SMM results were evaluated visually and semi-quantitatively by calculating standardised uptake values (SUV) and tumour/lung ratios in the initial and subsequent studies. The findings were correlated with the initial clinical and mammographic findings and the final histopathological diagnoses. There was a highly significant correlation between SUVmean, SUVmax and the tumour/lung ratio determined with SMM-SPET in the studies performed before and during neoadjuvant chemotherapy. All three patients with complete remission showed decreasing FDG and sestamibi uptake as early as 8 days after therapy. In the presurgical study, increased sestamibi and FDG uptake was no longer evident. Three patients had partial remission with clearly reduced but persisting focal FDG and sestamibi uptake after neoadjuvant therapy. One patient who did not respond to therapy had unchanged intense tracer uptake during chemotherapy that was evident with both techniques. An early decline in glucose metabolism or sestamibi uptake 8 days after beginning therapy did not necessarily predict complete tumour remission in the further course of chemotherapy. On the other hand, increased tracer uptake after the first cycle did not exclude a partial tumour response. After the second chemotherapeutic cycle both techniques were able to distinguish between complete and partial/no response. There was a good correlation between preoperative FDG and sestamibi uptake and the histopathologically determined tumour size. However, small residual invasive tumours in patients with clinically complete remission could not be visualised with either technique. The preliminary data demonstrate that sestamibi SMM is as useful as FDG-PET for the monitoring of tumour response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Reference Standards
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi